Patient group set up over allegations of 'poor care' at Royal London
- Credit: Abdul Doyas
Relatives of elderly patients have set up a families action group to investigate allegations of “poor level of care” at the Royal London Hospital.
Anger erupted after relatives were refused visits to wards during strict lockdown periods and there were claims elderly family members were not receiving attentive care on the wards.
Now the Royal London Hospital Patients and Families Group says it is in talks with lawyers this week after setting up a Facebook page to share their experiences of the east London hospital.
Barts Health NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, said the pandemic has been an "extremely busy" time but insisted patient safety is its top priority, while promising to listen to any feedback and concerns.
The families' group is calling for changes and suggesting how standards "should be improved" by involving families with patient care.
“Many don’t speak English,” the group’s chair Abdul Doyas explained. “They are unable to communicate with medical staff. Allowing a family member to be present during agreed hours will improve care.
"Vulnerable people are admitted to hospital in an unfamiliar environment, which is a frightening experience that causes anxiety. But having a family member by their side can improve chances of recovering.”
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Some 600 people have now signed up to the group, which has had a meeting with a firm of City lawyers on April 7 following "disappointing discussions" with senior hospital staff about its members' concerns.
The group is calling for visiting rights for nominated family members for all elderly and vulnerable patients, especially those with language problems.
Abdul’s mother Jahura Bibi was a stroke patient who died in February from renal failure at 86.
“They wouldn't let me in to see my mum,” the father-of-three told the East London Advertiser. “But I insisted on going in — I was shocked to find her bleeding from dry lips."
He continued: "We were told she was eating, but I found her food still sealed. Then we started to feed her.”
The 52-year-old restaurant manager would like an inquest to investigate the circumstances around his mother's death.
Barts Health NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, acknowledges the “feedback” from the families and promises to continue to listen “so we can make further improvements”.
Its spokesman said: “The hospital has been extremely busy caring for high numbers of Covid-19 patients. Our staff have been working exceptionally hard under difficult circumstances to provide the best possible care.
“We want to assure our communities that patient safety has always been our top priority.“
A new contact centre has been opened to assist families with relatives in hospital. The centre is a point of contact to make sure families “are supported and kept in touch about their relatives’ condition”.
The families’ group accepts that NHS staff are “working under tremendous pressure” during the pandemic, but is demanding elderly and vulnerable patients have "access to quality healthcare as a fundamental human right".