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Patient 'left to starve' amid shocking Gloucestershire hospital claims

By citizenmike  |  Posted: January 29, 2013

Dr Frank Harsent, chief executive of Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Dr Frank Harsent, chief executive of Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Comments (31)

A patient was left to starve at a Gloucestershire hospital while others were dumped in operating theatres to recover, it has been claimed by a senior NHS clinician.

It's all because morale among staff has hit rock bottom and management is 'shambolic', the worker told the BBC this morning.

The whistleblower says his concerns about the county's NHS Trust, which has some 7,500 employees, have been ignored.

He said: "I think it has now reached a point where people don't care anymore."

The clinician, who works at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital and Cheltenham General Hospital, said he was "fearful" for both hospitals claiming they were "hopelessly mismanaged".

One patient was left looking 'emaciated' because nurses were 'too busy' to feed them, the worker said.

He added: "With morale being low, naturally this impacts on the patients' experience - it has to - and on patients' treatments.

"I've come across patients who've been treated on the wards appallingly. There is a real lack of care."

The whistleblower has also told of a "bullying culture" which he claims he has seen "from middle line managers to other managers".

The NHS Trust has quickly dismissed the allegations.

Dr Frank Harsent, chief executive of Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: "I am disappointed that this individual feels that the best way to highlight their concerns about our organisation is to approach the media.

"The fact that they choose to remain anonymous leaves me in the position of having to defend allegations on a broad range of issues without having specific details."

He added that he was "shocked and concerned" to hear the nurses were apparently too busy to feed a patient.

He also acknowledged that staff were feeling the impact of austerity measures including a pay freeze.

"However, I am absolutely clear that the quality of care provided to patients, their safety and their experience in our hospitals is of the utmost importance to us and to our dedicated and valued staff," he said.

"I know from the conversations I have had and from the feedback from patients and families, that the vast majority of our staff, including our managers, take great pride in their work and frequently go the extra mile for patients."

Tanya Palmer, from trade union Unison, said: "I can say quite categorically that we have had many discussions with people in fairly senior management who are saying the same things to us.

"They are being asked to do things above and beyond their remit, being told to 'shut up and get on with it' and to not complain.

"That is not a healthy workplace or healthy culture."

What do you think about Gloucestershire's hospitals? Have you had a good or bad experience? Share your comments below.

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31 comments

  • DocDoc  |  February 25 2013, 4:55PM

    Seems like this has gone quiet!!! Our Dr Harsent may be "disappointed" that the cat is out of the bag, but he has failed to act on the bullying accusations against Sarah Truelove the Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Finance, again. So if his right hand woman and repeat offender has been under investigation for months how can he be surprised at the concerns of corporate bullying throughout the Trust. The gentlemen doth protest too much The executive do not enact what they espouse. Time for change me thinks!!! Perhaps our Dr Frank should also be concerned at the damage the external management consultant culture driven by Mrs Truelove is doing to the Trust or maybe look at the activities of Truelove Consultancy LLP for a start.

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  • Aletheia  |  January 30 2013, 9:45PM

    'Shireme' it was no different prior to austerity. To pinch your phrase, the question needs to be asked, are nursing degrees helping or hindering patient care? I think the answer is pretty obvious and that is that if you have worked for a degree you aren't going to want to empty bed pans etc!

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  • L804XDG  |  January 30 2013, 7:39PM

    Areaman Did you vote CONservative?

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  • Areaman  |  January 30 2013, 8:44AM

    Shireme - the NHS budget is one of the few that has increased above inflation under the coalition. You might think it should have increased still more, but there has been no austerity in the NHS, at least in comparison to other areas of government spending.

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  • ShireMe  |  January 30 2013, 8:01AM

    The question needs to be asked, is Austerity helping or hindering patient care?

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  • KittyWear  |  January 29 2013, 11:58PM

    My Mother broke her hip and was admitted to CGH some 3 years ago. There was no care and this cannot be blamed on management. The Nursing Staff were in the main a disgrace to a caring profession and spent more time chatting than being with patients. Many of the patients were elderly and no effort was made to make them comfortable or help them eat and bells were often ignored leading to patients soiling themselves. We spent every minute that we could with my mother but this still left her at the mercy of the staff for the majority of the day - a frightening thought when we could see what was, or more importantly was not, happening when visitors were around and the staff were "on show". The only time we saw any real activity was when an elderly patient, on a drip, tried to get out of bed but the sides were up and so she ended up suspended upside down. Despite being in full view of the Nursing Station none of the staff noticed this and I raised the alarm. There was no consistency of Staff as many were part-time or agency employees. which obviously brings problems with continuity of care. We did not make a complaint as a member of the family had a connection with the Hospital but I bitterly regret not having the courage to do so. The problems are not just with management and blaming poor morale is no excuse.

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  • ladylalala  |  January 29 2013, 11:33PM

    My Dad was on Rehab ward at GRH - he was supposed to be receiving 'end of life' care whilst arrangements were being made to allow him to have his last days at home with his family. I cannot fault the staff that dealt with getting him home, and accessing CHC funding to do so..... however, his time on Rehab Ward was highly distressing for him and his family. I was too distressed at the time to make a formal complaint, PALS were pretty useless and did everything they could to prevent me from making a formal complaint - I wish I could remember the staff nurses name - she would be named and shamed right here and now if I could - how anyone can get away with treating patients in that way when they are at their end of life is beyond me - irrigardless of staff morale and management pressures - there was no excuse for the way she would speak to and about my Dad. Luckilly, I was in a position to attend all meal times to make sure he was able to get food to his mouth, when he felt up to eating, but not everyone is in the position to do that for their loved ones. I urge anyone who is going through similar experaince to not be fobbed off by PALS or staff that couldnt care less - if your loved one is not having basic care needs met in hospital, then act on it and stand up for them.

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  • gruesome  |  January 29 2013, 10:54PM

    My mother was not treated with any dignity or respect in 4 weeks at Rehab 1 in Gloucester and Woodmancote Ward in Cheltenham in 2012. My complaint was fobbed off by Dr Harsent and Richard Graham wasn't interested. I doubt that there has been any improvement since then. Don't worry Sandra. Hope you'll be ok as you're young enough to speak up for yourself. It's the poor oldies who are neglected.

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  • Aletheia  |  January 29 2013, 10:42PM

    I know staff that work at GRH and they all say exactly the same thing - the management are remote and uncaring, there is far too many of them, they refuse to make time to see their own staff yet when somebody important visits the management then suddenly appear in vast numbers. It seems to be the same story up and down the country, when there are cutback they cut staff at the bottom whilst employing more at the top to work out who to make redundant next!

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  • chori  |  January 29 2013, 9:57PM

    we were phoned by nursing staff in a panic as they could not change her tracheostomy tube so my husband had to go and change it, in over three weeks she was not offered a wash, she was paralysed and her meals were left in front of her and then taken away uneaten(no one helped to feed her) i was told by fellow patients that they sometimes fed her or gave her drinks.we made a complaint to pals but might just as well not bothered as nothing was done. i would never again put a member of my family through that trauma.

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