Assaults in homes 'widespread'

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Mistreatment of the elderly in Britain's hospitals and residential homes is so common that it rarely makes the news, say campaigners for old people's rights.

Mistreatment of the elderly in Britain's hospitals and residential homes is so common that it rarely makes the news, say campaigners for old people's rights.

Elderly patients are regularly assaulted, abused and neglected, but only the worst cases ever come to public light, said Ginny Jenkins, director of the charity Action on Elderly Abuse, based at the headquarters of Age Concern in London.

Few parts of Britain have escaped scandals in recent years similar to the case in Southwark, south London, in which council officials had to close Nye Bevan Lodge, a council-run nursing home. In March 1987, an inquiry found that elderly residents at the home had been tortured, forced to pay for baths and physically assaulted.

In 1996, six nurses at the Victoria Infirmary in Glasgow were suspended and another resigned after allegations that staff had stolen money from elderly patients, subjected Jewish and Asian patients to racist abuse, failed to change dressings and forced a vegetarian man to eat meat.

Ms Jenkins said such cases suggested that abuse of the elderly was widespread in NHS hospitals. Many more minor cases of ill-treatment crop up routinely, she said.

"I don't think the health service takes the issue of abuse seriously - and doesn't wish to recognise the extent of it within their own service," she added.

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