Monday 16th March 2015


Seeing our parents growing old and frail can cause us all a little anxiety. But when that moment comes when they have to be admitted to hospital can be the most worrying time of all.

So it is with concern that last week, yet another organisation issued a warning about the failings in elderly care. This time it was the turn of the Royal College of Nursing.

Their analysis of Healthcare Improvement Scotland’s inspection reports has found hospitals falling short of the recognised standards time and again.

These include failures to assess patients for dementia, to check to see if they are at risk of becoming undernourished and a failure to ensure their specific care needs are met.

The findings have caused the nursing union sufficient concern that they have now issued an amber warning to health boards.

Inverclyde Royal Hospital has not been immune from the problems highlighted by the RCN. Indeed, it recently emerged that one patient at IRH had to wait four days after admission before being assessed for risk of malnutrition and that personalised care plans were not in place to support staff in addressing patients needs.

As I have said in the past on this issue, we need an independent inspection body with enforcement powers so it can take action against health boards who consistently fail to meet the standards.

Moreover, health boards must stop seeing the inspections as an event. Rather, they need to be pro-active, learn from the inspections and put in place measures to improve the experience of patients.

In other words, as the RCN put it, “improvement and scrutiny need to go hand in hand to drive up quality care.” If we don’t make these changes quickly, we could soon see the nursing union’s amber warning turning to red.