'Whistleblower calls for help for ‘lost voices’ of NHS patients' Lizzy Buchan, The Scotsman, 29 January 2016:
"A woman whose elderly father was left
isolated and in pain at a community hospital during his last days is
spearheading a new campaign to fight for the “lost voices” within
Scottish health service.
Shona Oliver and her family have fought a two-year battle to get
justice for her father Bill, who died at Ellen’s Glen House, in
Edinburgh in 2013.
The 82-year-old, who had dementia and was
partly deaf, moved to the facility when doctors diagnosed him with
advanced stomach cancer. He spent four weeks there, until his death.
Chronic staff shortages meant patients were left wearing soiled
clothes or lying in pain after a fall, but despite complaints to NHS
Lothian and the Scottish Government, the Oliver family felt their
concerns were being ignored.
During one visit, Ms Oliver and her brothers Steven and Gavin, both
56, found their father hanging out of his bed, half-dressed, and crying
for help. He was dehydrated and surrounded by mugs of tea and glasses of
water that he was too weak to lift.
Ms Oliver, 51, said: “He was shouting at us, ‘Help me, help me, I’m dying. Why won’t someone help me?’
are the last words I ever heard my dad say. My brothers and I will
never get that picture of our dad, wide-eyed and distressed, out of our
Ms Oliver described how she heard vulnerable patients
vomiting or choking on their food, wearing soiled clothes or shouting
out in distress as buzzers went unanswered.
The family found one woman lying in the hall as she had fallen out of bed and crawled to the door to attract attention.
nursing staff were challenged, many broke down in tears while a senior
medic told them staffing levels were “dangerously low”.
NHS Lothian has apologised to the family and pledged to learn from an upcoming review by Healthcare Improvement Scotland.
But the family decided to fight on and have met with leaders at NHS Lothian, and Health Secretary Shona Robison, to get answers.
An adverse incident review last year found that more than £3 million
was needed to safely staff all of the In-Patient Complex Care units in
Lothian, but no-one was able to say where the money would come from,
said Ms Oliver.
She has joined other whistleblowers, clinicians
and activists to form ASAP NHS, which is calling for the creation of an
independent NHS regulator with full investigatory and disciplinary
The group has claimed that as many as 2,000 unnecessary deaths are taking place within the NHS each year.
Oliver said: “Some of these people had no one to advocate for them. I
call them the lost voices. These are the people who have no one to speak
up for them.”
Maria Wilson, chief nurse of the Edinburgh
Integrated Joint Board, said: “NHS Lothian conducted a wide-ranging
independent review … the findings of the investigation and improvement
plans have been shared with Ms Oliver and her family. An independent
inspection, by Health Improvement Scotland, is now due to be carried
Shona Robison said: “We welcome the review which HIS are undertaking
in NHS Lothian which will look at all hospital-based complex clinical