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27/12/2012 - Nightmare NHS trust 'laden with Labour's PFI debt'

A nightmare NHS trust in charge of a hospital where a man starved to death is buckling under the strain of Labour's PFI debt, campaigners said today.
 
Worcestershire Acute NHS Hospital Trust is set to say sorry to the families of 38 people subjected to "appalling" treatment.
 
In one case an 84-year-old man starved to death at Redditch's Alexandra Hospital in 2009, while an elderly woman died after going unwashed for 11 weeks.
 
Lawyers Leigh Day & Co sued the trust 15 months ago on behalf of badly treated patients after the scandal was exposed by the Care Quality Commission health watchdog.The trust's bosses have agreed to apologise but haven't admitted that it is liable for the shocking situations. It is also paying out £410,000 of taxpayers money to the families.

"Vulnerable and elderly patients were left starving and thirsty, with drinks left out of reach, buzzers ignored and people not being taken to the toilet and instead left to sit in their own faeces by the very people meant to be caring for them," said laywer Emma Jones.

"There have been financial settlements, but what the families have always wanted all along is an apology. Some have been waiting years."
 
The letters are expected to be sent in January, she said.
 
All of the incidents took place between 2002 and 2011, with 35 at the Alexandra Hospital and three at Worcestershire Royal. Health Emergency information director John Lister said: "The trust is laden with PFI debt."
 
"Such financial problems would have an enormous impact on staff numbers and the quality of care it delivers," he said.
 
"There's no excuse for individual failings in care but what must not happen in the wake of this is the scapegoat of a handful of nurses while the systematic failings of management are ignored."
 
(Also see our report dated 08/120/2012 in the News section - "Private Finance Disaster")

Report from Ian Bell