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'Human rights violations' at Epsom Hospital being investigated
A law firm specialising in human rights has announced that it is investigating complaints that Epsom Hospital may have violated the rights of two elderly patients.
In the wake of the Francis Inquiry into the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust and Stafford Hospital, where it is estimated that as many as 1,200 people died unnecessarily between 2005 and 2008, many of them elderly, the company which represented the victims announced it is now acting for 116 patients across the country, including two at Epsom.
Human rights lawyer, Emma Jones, at London-based solicitors Leigh Day, said the complaints against the hospital are in the "very early stages" and that Epsom and St Helier Hospital Trust has not yet been informed.
She said she is looking into "whether the complaints could have contravened Articles 3 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights".
Article 3 of the Convention, to which the UK is party through the Human Rights Act, prohibits torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, and Article 8 safeguards the right to respect for a private and family life.
Ms Jones said the first complaint alleges that the A&E department at Epsom Hospital turned away an elderly woman "who was in so much pain she could not open her eyes and who died 48 hours later from a massive stroke".
She said the second complaint alleges that an elderly patient died on an unnamed ward in Epsom Hospital after "serious failings in the basic level of care".
Ms Jones said: "What the loved-ones of these people have said to me is that much of the treatment their relatives received was disgusting and disrespectful.
"It seems that the issues raised in the Francis Inquiry are quite widespread and we need to address the issues as soon as possible so the NHS becomes a service of which we can be proud."
The findings of the Francis Inquiry were published in February and assessed the level of care provided at Stafford Hospital, which saw patients being left to sit in faeces for extended periods of time, and food and drink being placed purposefully out of reach, leading thirsty patients to drink water out of flower vases.
It concluded that, for many patients, the most basic elements of care had been neglected.
A spokesman for Epsom and St Helier hospital trust said: “These are very serious allegations and we have written today to Leigh Day to ask for more information.
“Whilst it is difficult to comment with such limited information, we would remind people that a recent review of Epsom Hospital by the Government’s health watchdog, the Care Quality Commission, found it to be fully compliant with all necessary standards.
“This included that patients were treated with respect and that the care they received met their needs and protected their rights.”