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NHS watchdog, the Healthcare Commission’s third annual survey of patients who stayed overnight in hospitals, reported that, overall, 92 per cent of patients said their treatment was ‘excellent’ or very good’.

Over 80,000 adult patients from all 169 NHS acute and specialist trusts in England in 2005 were surveyed and the survey attracted a 59 per cent response.

However, many patients expressed concerns about the impact that staff shortages were having on their treatment.

With tens of thousands of jobs being slashed currently in the NHS trusts, these problems are now being exacerbated.

Concerning the 2005 survey, the Patients Association doubted that ‘nine in 10 patients are really happy with their care. We believe there are serious concerns about staffing, cleanliness – both of which are referred to.’

The result of staff shortages and pressures revealed in the Health Commission survey of patients was that ‘More than two fifths said they were discharged without being told about the side-effects of medication, with the proportion saying this ranging from 60 per cent to 16 per cent.

‘Forty per cent said they were not told the danger signals they should watch out for once they were at home, with the proportion saying this ranging from 57 per cent to 17 per cent.

‘Almost a quarter of patients said that they were not told whom to contact if they were worried about their condition after leaving hospital.’

On ‘Satisfaction’, the survey also found: ‘almost 80 per cent said they were ‘always’ treated with dignity and respect while they were in the hospital, with the proportion saying this ranging from 96 per cent to 61 per cent across all trusts.’

Also ‘patients viewed the care they received from ambulance staff as positive’ and ‘95 per cent said the ambulance crew had “always” treated them with dignity and respect’.

But the survey found that staff shortages on wards led to ‘patients who needed help to eat their meals (a fifth of those surveyed), almost 40 per cent said that they either never (18 per cent) or only sometimes (21 per cent) received help.

‘Almost 60 per cent of patients felt that there were always or nearly always enough nurses on duty.’

On ‘Cleanliness: 52 per cent of patients perceived their room or ward as “very clean”, falling from 56 per cent in 2002.

‘The proportion of patients saying this ranged from a high of 89 per cent in some trusts to a low of 32 per cent in others.

‘Forty per cent said that their room or ward was fairly clean, six per cent said it was not very clean and two per cent said it was not clean at all.

‘Forty-six per cent of patients described the toilets as “very clean” compared with 51 per cent in 2002.

‘Fifty four per cent of patients rated the food as good or very good, while 31 per cent said it was fair and 15 per cent said it was poor.’

l Health privateer Care UK has won a £5m contract to run a GP practice and walk-in centre in Barking and Dagenham, east London.

The deal has been signed by the local Primary Care Trust, but brokered by the government as part of an overhaul of services.

Care UK was set up in 1994 and mainly runs care homes and private hospitals.


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