Harrowing stories of neglect and abuse in NHS hospitals are published by the Patients Association today in a damning report calling for immediate action to improve basic NHS care.
Patients were left hungry and thirsty, sitting in their own faeces or ignored when they called for help because nurses were "too busy". Some died in agony because they were not given adequate pain relief while pleas for help from relatives were ignored.
The charity said that, for every one of the 16 stories in its report, it received many more detailing similar levels of poor care at the hands of the NHS. Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the association, said: "The accounts of care contained in this report should shame everyone."
The NHS Confederation said it was "deeply and profoundly concerned" at the findings. Chairman Sir Keith Pearson said: "This is a leadership issue. The boards of hospital trusts as well as the staff who walk the wards and care for patients have a responsibility to respond to the challenge before us."
A Department of Health spokesperson said: "Many parts of the NHS provide really good care, but some sadly fall short of what we demand. Wherever there is poor performance we will root it out."