Stourbridge MP Margot James has demanded the return of matrons or nurse managers to every hospital ward, following warnings from official watchdogs that two West Midlands hospitals are putting elderly patients in danger.
A report by the Care Quality Commission warned that 20 hospitals had broken the law by failing to protect the dignity of older patients and ensure they got enough food and water.
Sandwell General Hospital and the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch, were named as the worst offenders.
Dame Jo Williams, the Care Quality Commission’s Chair, wrote in the report: “Two hospitals (Sandwell General, and the Alexandra Hospital in Worcestershire) were offering care that put people at unacceptable risk of harm.”
The report was based on inspections carried out earlier in the year, and both hospitals say they have already taken steps to improve the way patients are treated.
Inspectors warned that Sandwell General, part of Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, wasn’t ensuring every patient was receiving enough food and water.
They also highlighted the case of an incontinent patient who had been waiting an hour-and-a-half to be cleaned, and only received help from hospital staff after inspectors intervened.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Ms James said: “Somebody must be in charge of the ward – a nurse manager or a matron. Although that happens in the best wards, it is not universal.”
She also called for better training for health care assistants, who she said carry out a lot of the work patients assume will be done by nurses.
Ms James said she was concerned by the findings of the Care Quality Commission report as well as issues raised by charity Age UK.
But she said most hospitals did a good job, adding: “It is important to note that even when reports give cause for serious concern, there are significantly more examples of good and acceptable care than there are of bad.”
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has ordered the Care Quality Commission to make 700 spot checks on hospitals as part of a drive to improve care quality.