Leader: ‘Findings of report cannot be ignored’

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Almost every reader of this newspaper has a reason to be thankful to the staff of the ERI.

Every day its doctors and nurses provide first-class care to thousands of people from transplant patients to accidents victims and many more.

In so many ways the ERI is a very fine hospital and one of which the Capital can be rightly proud.

The events of the past week, with the critical Healthcare Improvement Scotland(HIS) report into the care of older people at the hospital and the fall-out from that, have been difficult for all connected with the hospital.

Yet there is quite rightly a recognition that the findings of the report cannot be ignored and urgent action is needed to put some parts of the hospital’s care back on the right path.

The word shocking is vastly overused these days, but it is quite appropriate for describing the shortcomings in the most basic personal care of older patients which the HIS inspectors discovered.

One elderly patient lost more than a stone-and-a-half in weight without staff being aware. Another partially-sighted patient was left to eat with their fingers. The tales of what might reasonably be described as a form of neglect are many and varied.

There is a common theme to many, though, and that is a lack of basic personal care, with many of the worst problems coming at meal times.

This will all sound familiar to anyone who remembers the Jarvie Report of six years ago which investigated very similar complaints and came up with plans designed to stop them happening again. Ultimately, we know today that these plans failed in their main objective.

The reforms that are needed now will have to be more far-reaching than those put forward then.

Questions will inevitably be asked about NHS funding, but these issues go beyond that.

The next step needs to be informed by the best practice from across the country. The system in Dumfries and Galloway where relatives are encouraged to come in to the hospital to help at meal times appears to be 
one such example worth copying.