Elderly patients “suffering in silence”, Report

Hundreds of thousands of elderly people are suffering in silence because they are too afraid to complain about their treatment in hospitals and care homes, a government watchdog says.

“Older people are some of the most frequent and vulnerable users of health and social care services but are the silent majority when it comes to complaining,” Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman Julie Mellor was quoted as saying on the service’s website.

More than half of those aged 65 and over who had experienced a problem in care did not complain due to concerns over their future treatment, the review of several focus groups, a national survey and a review of unresolved complaints brought to the ombudsman have found.

A further 18 percent of those 75 years and older lacked knowledge of procedures to file a complaint, while one-third of over 65 year-olds felt that complaining “would not make a difference,” the study revealed.
“Their reluctance to complain could mean that they are suffering in silence and could lead to missed opportunities to improve the service for others,” Mellor said.

The latest report correlates with a number of studies indicating a drop in NHS performance in recent years, leading opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn to declare in mid-December the NHS faced its worst crisis in its nearly 70-year history.

The Parliamentary and Health Ombudsman Service investigates public complaints pertaining to unfair or poor treatment of individuals by the NHS, government departments and other public organizations.

Laura F. Nixon

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