Commission to improve care for older patients

A commission has been launched to look at improving dignity and care to older patients in hospitals and care homes. The Partnership on Dignity in Care initiative has been formed by the NHS Confederation, Local Government Group (LG Group) and charity Age UK.

While the NHS Confederation has also warned the government’s timetable implementing value-based pricing for the NHS could be unrealistic.

The commission has been established in light of a series of reports on dignity and compassion in care ranging from the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust inquiry to the Health Ombudsman’s report on patient complaints.

The three bodies said they will use it to:
• understand the aspirations of older people and their families for dignity and care,
• establish what really works to improve care,
• identify good practice examples from across health and social care, and
• drive change and improvements to the dignity and care provided to older people in hospital and residential settings.

Sir Keith Pearson, chairman of the NHS Confederation, Dianne Jeffrey, chair of Age UK, and Councillor David Rogers, chair of the LG Group’s Community Wellbeing Board, will jointly lead the process.

This will include written evidence and up to three oral evidence sessions, which will hear from nurses, doctors, patient representatives and leaders across the health and social care sectors.

Sir Keith Pearson felt it was down to industry rather than government legislation to solve the problems being uncovered.

“We have seen too many reports highlighting unacceptable levels of care in health and social care,” he said.

“It should not be an option for any part of the service to provide anything but the highest standards of dignity and care to its patients. Getting it right for every patient, every time is a big challenge, but it can be done.

“Regulation has a critical role to play in shining a spotlight on minimum standards, but it cannot deliver the more comprehensive cultural and organisational change that may be necessary. This is an industry problem and the industry must own it.”

Dianne Jeffrey, chair of Age UK, added: “We hear all too often about the appalling care of older people in hospitals and care homes but horrifying headlines alone do not change practice.

“This commission aims to build understanding of why and how older people’s essential care is going wrong and to set out practical solutions for getting it right in the future.”

The NHS Confederation also issued a warning that the government’s timetable to introduce value-based pricing to the NHS may be unrealistic.

Although it commended the coalition for listening and taking on board the concerns of the health service about the new system it feared there was too much work still to be done.

Mike Farrar, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “The NHS supports the government’s objective to link the price of medicines with the value they provide.

“But there were concerns in the health service that the government’s original proposals for ‘value-based pricing’ could increase the NHS drugs bill without improving the effectiveness of the treatment that patients receive.

“The government response shows it has listened to the NHS’s concerns and has recognised that decisions on drugs pricing should be informed by the best available evidence,” he added.