If MP’s can’t save their family members from NHS neglect what hope the rest of us?

Over the past couple of week Members of Parliament have revealed shocking details of neglect of their family members by NHS staff, despite their protests and complaints. If powerful politicians can’t challenge the NHS culture of contempt and cruelty towards vulnerable patients what chance have the rest of us got to protect our loved ones?

Here are personal accounts  from Fiona Bruce MP and Anne Clywd MP:

Fiona Bruce MP

Every year, 130,000 people die on the pathway, under which doctors remove life-saving treatment. In December it emerged that almost half are never told that treatment is being removed.

Mrs Bruce, vice chairman of the parliamentary Dying Well group, said that in her mother’s case ‘it took her weeks to pass away, which was agonising for her, and heart-rending for her family. There was no discussion, no consultation with the daughter.’

Last summer, her father was taken to hospital feeling unwell, she told MPs. Doctors could not diagnose any illness, although he was very frail. After a few days, Mrs Bruce asked a nurse how he was doing.

The MP for Congleton recalled: ‘“Oh,” said the nurse, almost casually, “he’s not very well at all. He has not long to live; we’re putting him on the Liverpool Care Pathway.” No discussion, no explanation, no consultation; just an announcement. Surely there should be more formality about this, more dignity.’

A day later, he was moved to a nursing home. ‘There, his needs were attended to in a positive and caring way,’ Mrs Bruce said. ‘There he didn’t die. In fact, he got better. Now, well over six months later, that elderly man is very much alive, still being cared for: eating well, enjoying visits from his family. It’s not a fantastic quality of life – but it is a life.’

Anne Clwyd MP

‘Tonight, in common with every other night, Ann Clwyd will be jolted from her sleep by a familiar nightmare. “I wake in a cold sweat, always with the same image,” she says. In the scene that she cannot banish from her memory, her husband Owen is shivering in a hospital bed with his life ebbing away.

Her story of how he died “like a battery hen”, crushed against the bars of his NHS bed with an ill-fitting oxygen mask cutting into his face, this week provoked horror at the “almost callous lack of care” in the hours before Owen Roberts, who suffered from multiple sclerosis, lost his life to hospital-induced pneumonia.

on October 23, Ms Clwyd sat helpless at her husband’s bedside. She and a friend had covered her husband with a towel to try to keep him warm, and put socks on his feet because they were hanging from the end of the bed.

“I used a dampened tissue to wipe his eye, which was infected. His lips were dry from a fan that had been left on a nearby bedside, but no one came to give him a drink. He was so cold under a thin cotton cover. A friend had asked if he could be moved from the ward into an empty room, but was told that it was being kept empty. I really do feel he died of cold, he died from people who didn’t care. He died because people decided he was going to die.”

Earlier, when she had asked why her husband was not in intensive care, she was told, she says, that other people were worse off than he was. Any contact with staff was “cold and callous”, or simply non-existent. “I should have stood in that corridor and screamed. Where were the nurses?”

Only when her friend ran to get help did the staff arrive. “They tore the oxygen mask off him and started pulling drips out of his arms. They gave him an injection, but it was all too late. I’ve never seen anyone die before.”

When he was diagnosed in the Seventies with multiple sclerosis, Mr Roberts retained the toughness and independence she had admired when they first met, as two young broadcast journalists….

On the first two occasions, he was sent home quickly from A&E. Before the third episode, he appeared to have a premonition of his death. “I am going to go before you,” he told his wife. When he was admitted to hospital again this autumn, Ms Clwyd expected that he would be home soon. “He gave me a thumbs-up from the ambulance,” she says. Instead, he was left overnight in A&E.

“He was distressed and agitated. When I spoke to a doctor, it was almost as if my husband didn’t exist. It took two-and-half hours’ waiting before I saw an administrator. No one even offered me a seat. Eventually, I was told he’d be put on a ward that night.”

Mr Roberts was finally admitted to a respiratory ward after being diagnosed with sleep apnoea, a condition that causes interrupted breathing, for which doctors wanted to conduct some tests. Shortly afterwards, Ms Clwyd herself developed a chest infection and was told by the hospital that she should stay clear of the ward.

“Friends went in instead. Every day, my husband asked: ‘Where’s Ann?’ He asked someone to get him a taxi home. I phoned the ward, but you feel a nuisance, and when I asked to speak to him, they said they didn’t have that facility. On the Monday before he died, I got a call to say the consultant was very worried and thought he had pneumonia.”

By the time she arrived to keep vigil by his bedside, Mr Roberts was hours away from death. “I only saw one nurse-round. Nobody came to speak to me afterwards. When I asked why he wasn’t in intensive care, I was brushed aside. As he was dying, someone put the lights on and called: ‘Anyone for breakfast?’ ”

Protect the Pope comment: First they killed the unborn child , but I didn’t say anything because I wasn’t an unborn child. Then they experimented on embryonic human beings, but I didn’t say anything because I wasn’t an embryo. Then they killed the disabled babies and babies with Downs, but I didn’t say anything because I wasn’t disabled or have Downs. Then they killed those in a Permanent Vegetative State,  but I didn’t say anything because I wasn’t in a Permanent Vegetative State. Then they killed the vulnerable and old, but I didn’t say anything because I wasn’t vulnerable or old. Then they came for me, and there was no one prepared to speak for me. ( After Martin Niemöller).





29 comments to If MP’s can’t save their family members from NHS neglect what hope the rest of us?

  • John Dare

    Tell you what we need to do, introduce a health system where we are cusromers with choice, but bring your credit cards.

  • Michael Petek

    The chance the rest of us have to protect our loved ones consists in the opportunity to put medical staff under citizen’s arrest for attempted murder, and then to wait for the police to arrive.

  • ms Catholic state

    The NHS is a dangerous monopoly that should be franchised out. Catholic hospitals please!

  • John Dare

    Forgive me Ms, but I just finished laughing :) As soon as I saw this thread I thought ‘catholic hospitals’ will get a mention here. ;)

    A few thoughts:

    1. I know several people who returned from abroad (USA/Canada etc etc). I asked them why and was told “wer’re getting older and we couldn’t afford the healthcare”.
    2. Such stories are news because they are not the norm.
    3. Who here is in favour of higher taxes to pay for lots more staff in the NHS?
    4. Who here thinks that private medicine will actualy do better than the NHS
    5. Who here thinks that a service based on profit will do anything other than keep costs as low as possible (see 3 above)
    6. Who here has a plan, or knows that the church has a plan to actually provide real catholic healthcare from cradle to grave?
    7. Is anyone here seriously suggesting that the NHS is staffed by hard faced zombies who don’t give a 4x?

    Or is it more likely that we are very lucky to have the NHS, and that people who care for the sick may occasionaly be run off their feet.

    • ms Catholic state

      John…there is a danger in thinking that the NHS needs more money. It doesn’t necessarily. It needs to change its philosophy. But I see no hope of that. Secularism is not a good basis for the caring professions (or any other to my mind.)

      And while the NHS may not be staffed by hard-faced zombies….it is staffed by people with a hugely different attitude to human life than mine or maybe yours. Also…is the NHS the only institution in the world that can legally dehydrate people to death?! God help us all.

      • John Dare

        I can only speak from personal experience, NHS staff are ordinary people. And they don’t ask for your credit card.

        • ms Catholic state

          We’re all ordinary people….but with radically different world views. And the NHS don’t ask for your credit card…as all is paid for by our taxes already. It’s not a charity….though some seem to act as if it were.

          • John Dare

            Your right, the NHS doesn’t and thats my point.

            There will never be a catholic health service, and the alternative is private, doubtless supplied by mates of the posh boys.

          • ms Catholic state

            How do you knnow there will never be a Catholic health service?! There was one for 1.000 years in this country. By God’s grace alone….there will be again!

          • John Dare

            I suspect that there won’t Ms, we’ve had this converstion before. No one else joins in…….

      • Haslam

        Its not money that is the issue here (although it is in other areas of the NHS). It isn’t even a secular versus Catholic issue, it is that caring people (and most nurses are caring or else they would be working somewhere else) are ground down by a huge out of control system which is run by accountants not clinical staff and is obsessed with performance and statistics at the expense of real care. It is rather insulting to say that it is staffed by people with the wrong attitude to human life. It is just that too many of those people are demotivated, undervalued and poorly trained and ground-down by the system.

        The Church needs to speak up here, it really does. But it might have more of a chance of sucess if it found common cause with other religious and non-religious groups. It is not as if Ann Clywd comes to this cause from a religious direction. She is a secularist socialist. But she is right on this matter and in a democratic country like the UK were we agree across the religuous and political divides that the NHS needs to improve its nursing care, then something ought to chance. The Church would like to change UK society in many ways but this issue ought to be one of the easy wins. Please don’t use it as an excuse to find divsions you are playing into the hands of our divide and rule politicos.

        One practical thing we can all do is volunteer at your hospital. Something I have done a bit of and I was tremendously rewarding. You won’t be doing a nurses job but you can provide support to relatives so they feel like less like they are taking on the system alone.

        • ms Catholic state

          I disagree. I think it is an attitude problem born of secular attitudes of self-fulfillment rather than the Christian notion service to others.

          In the future it seems we will all have to volunteer to look after our relatives in hospital. Eventually everything falls back on that greatest (if imperfect) of all social services…the family.

          • John Dare

            So, hang on here Ms, are you saying that only Christians have a notion of service to others?

          • John Dare

            Do Methodists have this virtue?

          • Haslam

            But how many people with no desire to serve others do you think apply to nursing college? Why would large numbers of people without caring abilities want to be nurses? The pay? the convenient hours? the status – don’t make me laugh!

            attitudes of self-fulfillment are certainly a problem with some people in the world today, but the idea that selfish people choose nursing over a better paid profession is a joke.

            There is enough “caring capital” in the NHS to make a real improvement in quality of care if it wasn’t squandered by the structure.

          • ms Catholic state

            Lots of people have to take jobs that are not condisered high pay. Nursing is just another of these….if not underlined by a Christian attitude of service to others. Secularism tends to emphasise the self fulfillment aspects of nursing (which some might indeed call selfish), with an emphasis on degrees and career paths etc rather than caring and service to others. Of course many are selfless…but its not institutionally encouraged.

            Shockingly, one nurse on a newspaper comment section said that conscientous and caring nurses are viewed as unpopular..

          • ms Catholic state

            Um…last time I heard John…Methodists were Christian.

        • John Dare

          Sensible stuff Haslam.

  • ms Catholic state

    Off topic….but this is very interesting. Catholics doing street-evangelisation in US. We really need something like this here.


  • Spesalvi23

    I’m sure Saint Kilian found very open minded pagans when he came to Central Europe to spread the faith.
    They were clearly happy to stop worshipping trees and converted in masses immediately!
    After all, they were quite politically correct.

    I’m also sure he was really concerned about what they would think of him.

  • John Dare

    Too American spec.

    • Spesalvi23

      Better idea? If yes, get going…

      • John Dare

        Merely an informed comment. I recall seeing some Americans approaching a lad in the street here and asking him ‘do you want to find Jesus’. His reply was very English, ‘no thanks mate, I’m CofE’. And he walked away. It took the yanks several seconds to recover from their surprise.

        They wanted to discuss his comment, he carried on walking.

        • Spesalvi23

          Hehe. Well, we all know our American friends have their own peculiarities.
          Try picturing the usual nerdy pair of Mormons trying to convert the average, solid Bavarian catholic.
          Not so much.

          But!! Street mission does work! If its planned well and intelligently executed!
          I guess it’s quite important to be as authentic as possible.

  • Childofgod

    The NHS could use the money spent on abortions to improve health care and have some to spare. Those who are working in hospitals are so overworked they are depressed and stressed. Students are upset and demoralised when they see patient dying for lack of care. They see patients come in with something curable and catch something fatal in hospital. They see patients unable to feed themselves being left to starve to death. Student nurses are doing consecutive days of 14 hour shifts with only one hour break in total (they are allowed to split it up into three) and that doesn’t even count towards their hours.I say this from first hand experience this is not an exageration. The most dangerous place to be if you are ill is in a NHS hospital. Private hospitals rely on the testimony of patients and family and have a vested interest it getting it right.

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