Elderly “Not Safe” in Scottish Hospitals, Shorter Waits for Grave Than Long Term Care in Ontario

By Wesley J. Smith

Wesley J. Smith

The UK’s health system continues its implosion. We have already seen the stories exposing the poor care the elderly receive in England.  And now, the Scottish Nurses Association has charged that the elderly aren’t safe in Scottish hospitals. From the Scotsman story:

OLDER patients are ‘not safe’ on hospital wards in Scotland because of a lack of qualified nurses to care for them, a hard-hitting report from the body representing the nursing profession has warned. The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) findings come after it emerged the number of nurses in Scotland’s hospitals plummeted by thousands in just over two years, with further nursing posts lost during the last few months of 2011.

The report suggests there is just one nurse caring for nearly ten patients on old people’s wards. A survey of almost 1,700 nurses found that 78 per cent said comforting and talking to patients was not done or done inadequately on their last shift because of low staff numbers. Some 59 per cent said promoting mobility and self-care was left undone or unfinished, with 34 per cent saying they could not provide patients with food and drink, and 33 per cent claiming they were unable to fully help patients to the toilet or manage incontinence. The Scottish Government insisted that the elderly were “absolutely not at risk”.

This much is sure, when nursing staffing is cut too deeply, at some point, patient care suffers.

Meanwhile in socialized medicine Canada, a report has found that the elderly are more likely to make it to the grave before being admitted to a full service care bed.  From The Spectator story:

There are 200 beds in St. Patrick’s Home, a long-term care residence not far from Carleton University in Ottawa. There were 395 people waiting for one of those beds to become available the last time St. Patrick’s CEO Linda Chaplin checked her list. That’s more than just an arithmetic puzzle. “It is heartbreaking,” said Chaplin. The sad truth is that some of the people on the waiting list will get a spot in an Ottawa cemetery before they get a bed in St. Patrick’s Home.

That means a lot of elderly patients are kept in hospitals preventing those beds from serving others who need them:

On any given day, Chaplin said, up to 150 hospital beds across Ottawa are occupied by people who are waiting to be placed in a long-term care home. The Champlain LHIN had the longest overall wait times of Ontario’s 14 LHINs for finding long-term care spots for people, based on data compiled for the Spectator’s comprehensive report card of LHIN health performance. It took 209 days on average for Champlain LHIN residents to be placed in a long-term care home, nearly double the provincial average of 113 days. In the Central West LHIN, which includes Dufferin County and Peel Region north of Highway 401, the placement time was 47 days, the best in Ontario.

As the late Art Linkletter once put it, old age is not for sissies.  Yikes.

Editor’s note. This appeared on Wesley’s great blog.