5 Sep 2011

Catalogue of NHS errors in care of dying man

Health and Social Care Editor

A confidential report seen by Channel 4 News into the care of a dying, elderly man on an NHS ward has found a catalogue of failings.

Parkinson’s disease sufferer Ken Rasheed, 80, was admitted to the Godstone ward at East Surrey Hospital last autumn following a stroke, and was secretly filmed by Channel 4’s Dispatches.

The documentary, made by Hardcash, revealed systemic failures at East Surrey Hospital; it says Rasheed was not fed properly, occasionally not given his medication, and that some staff there were not always trained adequately.

Channel 4 News has seen a copy of the report ordered by the hospital management following the documentary’s broadcast.

Referring the feeding of Rasheed, it says: “Oral feeds problems were not robustly identified when the patient’s intake first reduced,” adding: “Additionally, when concerns about oral feeding and swallowing were identified by staff and the patient’s family, a multi-disciplinary assessment of the reasons for his poor intake was not conducted.”

The report also states that medical notes were written, claiming that Mr Rasheed had gained in weight, even though it is now claimed this could not have been possible.

An attitude that if you reach a certain age, and you are not well, we are not going to give you time and dignityTamina Rashell

It was because Mr Rasheed’s family were so concerned about his treatment following his relocation to Godstone ward, that they agreed to the secret filming.

His daughter, Tamina Rashell, told Channel 4 News she had told staff that her father was having trouble swallowing.

“From day one, there was cheese sandwiches sitting there. And I said ‘why have you put cheese sandwiches, he needs soft, moist food.’ In the end we would pack soft food to give to him,” she said.

Before he was moved to Godstone ward, the report says, Mr Rasheed was assessed as needing to be restricted to thickened fluids.

This assessment does not appear to have been passed to Godstone ward.

There were also major problems with the administering of Mr Rasheed’s medication, according to the report. It was missed entirely on a number of occasions and there were doses not signed for or accounted for.

As a result of those inconsistencies, Mr Rashid’s Parkinson’s condition – which had been controlled for 15 years – deteriorated.

He began to suffer from fits, and the report notes a further failure: doctors were not always called.

It states: “The patient did not always receive his PD (Parkinson’s Disease) medication and anti-seizure medications at the prescribed frequency.”

It adds that the medications were not switched to liquid form ‘in a timely way’.

The report does say – and Mr Rasheed’s family agrees – that he received excellent care when he was first admitted to the hospital: it was only when he was moved to Godstone ward that the litany of errors began.

“What I witnessed was what appeared to be an attitude that if you reach a certain age, and you are not well, we are not going to give you time and dignity. It was a value judgement,” Ms Rashell said.

She added that in her opinion, her father had effectively starved to death, despite the best efforts of his family to feed him, although the report does not share the conclusion.

In a statement, the Chief Executive of Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, Michael Wilson, said: “Like everyone, I was saddened by the Dispatches programme on end of life care. We asked an independent chair to lead a review and have shared the results of the investigation with the patient’s wife to whom we have also extended our sincerest apologies. Out of respect for her wishes we are unable to comment on the patient’s individual care.”

On Monday, the charity Age UK announced a joint initiative with the Local Government Association (LGA) and the NHS Confederation on dignity in care.