NHS inspectors had to stop work to help patients
THE shocking conditions in Britain's hospitals have been laid bare by an official report which revealed that failings uncovered in NHS wards were so bad that inspectors felt compelled to abandon their impartial roles and step in to end patient suffering.
Some 11 NHS trusts were put into "special measures" after an investigation found thousands of patients died needlessly because of poor care.
The report blamed poor staffing levels, lack of oversight and said that staff did not address the needs of patients. It concluded that the hospitals investigated were "trapped in mediocrity".
In a row which quickly became political, PM David Cameron said responsibility lay with the previous Labour government, which he accused of "covering up" the NHS failings that stretched back to 2005.
Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, said that the findings exposed by the investigation into 14 NHS trusts were Labour's "darkest moment".
He said ministers owed it to patients to "tackle and confront abuse, incompetence and weak leadership head-on".
Labour's shadow health secretary Andy Burnham hit back, saying that the crisis had worsened under the Coaliton.
The review, ordered by the prime minister, began in February this year following the public inquiry into the scandal at Mid Staffordshire Hospital Foundation Trust, where up to 1,200 people died amid "apalling" failings in care.
Inspectors visited 21 hospitals, run by 14 NHS trusts, which had the highest recent mortality rates. They found that some of the risks to patients were so severe that they were forced to step in to avert disaster.
During the visits, decisions were taken to urgently close operating theatres, suspend unsafe "out of hours" services for critically ill patients, order changes to staffing levels and to force hospitals to tackle major backlogs of scans and X-rays which had gone unexamined.
During one inspection, a senior nursing official was so shocked by the shortages of staff she encountered that she stepped in to physically comfort one patient because they had been ignored by staff.
The damning review, led by Bruce Keogh the NHS Medical Director, found that all had "ingredients" of the Mid Staffs scandal.