Linda Fabiani MSP for East Kilbride has brought the issue of care of our elderly when in hospital to the Scottish Parliament last week.
In a question to Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Cities, Nicola Sturgeon MSP, Linda made the point that there is very often a perception that the care needs of elderly and vulnerable people are not always as they should be.
“I raised the question as there is local concern about the care of their elderly relatives at Hairmyres Hospital. That’s not necessarily to say that there is deliberate neglect or medical negligence, but that sometimes a bit more consideration regarding basic care needs and dignity could be given.
“I know that NHS Lanarkshire’s Board discussed this at their meeting on 28th March, but this was by verbal report, so not a public paper. I am sure my request for details will be met quickly.
“The Cabinet Secretary’s response was positive as she is obviously determined that everyone should be able to have confidence in their local hospital. She is already keeping a watchful eye on the care for the elderly and has instructed that inspections be carried out by Health Improvement Scotland
“Nicola Sturgeon has committed to ensuring that every older person gets the best possible standard of care and encourages those who feel that care has fallen short of what they would expect, to use the NHS complaints procedure which has been strengthened by the Patient Rights (Scotland) Act 2011.
“I hope that as a result of NHS Lanarkshire’s meeting, the issues highlighted through the inspection process and the watchful eye of our Health Secretary, we will see the care standards for elderly patients achieve the levels we expect.”
Meeting of the Parliament 29 March 2012
Scottish Government Question Time: Health, Wellbeing and Cities Strategy
Medical Negligence Complaints (Guidelines)
Linda Fabiani (East Kilbride) (SNP):
5. To ask the Scottish Government what good practice guidelines are given to national health service boards for handling medical negligence complaints. (S4O-00863)
The Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Cities Strategy (Nicola Sturgeon): The NHS complaints procedure good practice guidance was recently reviewed to reflect the provisions in the Patient Rights (Scotland) Act 2011. The revised guidance will be available shortly and I will ask my officials to provide the member with a copy.
Legal actions for medical negligence are not dealt with under the NHS complaints procedure. When a patient indicates that they wish to pursue a damages claim against an NHS board, Scottish Government advice to the patient and the board is to seek the advice of legal professionals. The central legal office handles individual legal actions and provides advice to NHS boards on them.
Linda Fabiani: Will the cabinet secretary acknowledge the sometimes difficult distinction between medical negligence and negligence in care? I receive many complaints from elderly people and their families about care beyond the medical. Dignity and care for the elderly at Hairmyres hospital were discussed yesterday by the board of NHS Lanarkshire. Unfortunately, the report was verbal; I am not able to access it and am waiting for information. By giving an assurance that she is keeping a watching eye on care for the elderly, can the cabinet secretary offer any comfort to people who may have formed a perception about hospital care for the elderly beyond their medical treatment?
Nicola Sturgeon: Linda Fabiani raises an important issue. Without wanting to generalise—although I may be a little anecdotal—I hear many complaints about the issue of dignity and care, as opposed to medical treatment. That is especially true for the elderly. The complaints procedure in the NHS has been strengthened by the Patient Rights (Scotland) Act 2011. I feel strongly that, if patients have a complaint, they should exercise their right to complain. That will allow lessons to be learned.
Not only will I keep a watching eye on care for the elderly, but I have instructed that inspections of care for the elderly be carried out by Healthcare Improvement Scotland. The first of those inspections has been conducted, and the first inspection reports will appear soon. I am sure that issues for improvement will be highlighted, which is as it should be. Every older person deserves the best possible standard of care, which is what the inspections are designed to help to deliver.