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CQC attacks hospitals over elderly care standards and the health bill marches on

Our roundup of the health news headlines on Thursday 13 October.

NHS hospitals hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons today, with two reports showing many are failing elderly patients and one in five is struggling to survive at all.

The Guardian, among others, reports that the Care Quality Commission has found that fewer than half of NHS hospitals are meeting dignity and nutrition standards for elderly patients.

Of 100 acute hospitals that received unannounced visits by inspectors between March and June, 80 met the NHS's standards on both patient dignity and nutrition. But 35 of them needed to make improvements in one or both areas, while 20 – one in five – did not meet both standards.

The Telegraph quotes CQC chair Dame Jo Williams as saying: ‘The fact that over half of hospitals were falling short to some degree in the basic care they provided to elderly people is truly alarming, and deeply disappointing.'

Meanwhile a separate report by the National Audit Office hits the Independent's front-page  with the claim that one hospital in five is struggling to survive.

The Guardian repeats the warning that at least 20 NHS trusts are not ‘financially or clinically viable in their current form'.

The public spending watchdog blames the Government's orders to the NHS to find £20bn in savings by March 2015 while hospitals have to work to achieve foundation trust status.

Meanwhile the Guardian reports that the Government fought off two serious challenges to its controversial plans to open up healthcare to GP commissioning and to increase the level of competition across the NHS.

Two amendments were tabled in the Lords. The first, by former GP and Labour peer Lord Rea, which would have shelved the bill entirely; the second, by crossbencher peers Lords Owen and Hennessy, would have delayed it by sending the legislation to be considered by a three-month special committee. Government ministers said this second option would almost certainly have killed off the legislation but in the end peers rejected both amendments making the passage of the bill highly likely.

Spotted a story we've missed? Let us know, and we'll update the digest throughout the day…

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