Just over half of grieving East Lancashire families said their loved ones were always treated with respect by doctors and nurses during their final hours, new figures show.
Answering a national survey, just 48.2 per cent of families whose relative was treated by NHS Blackburn with Darwen said they were always treated with respect by doctors, while the same amount said they were always treated with respect by nurses too.
The National Survey of Bereaved People (Voices) survey also found that, in 2011/12, 55.8 per cent of families whose relative was treated by NHS East Lancashire said they were always treated with respect by doctors, while 48.7 per cent said they were always treated with respect by nurses.
Nationally, 57.9 per cent of grieving families said respect was always given by doctors, and by nurses in 49.9 per cent of cases - meaning NHS Blackburn with Darwen and East Lancashire performed below the national average.
Russ McClean, of East Lancashire Patient Voices group, said: “I’m a little distressed that this is happening across our patch.
“Of course death is a very emotive issue, and patients and their relatives are at their most vulnerable at that time of their life.
“Part of the problem is doctors and nurses are over-worked and under enormous pressure.
“There are a lot of people in hospitals, and I don’t think end of life care is as good as it can be.”
The survey also found doctors and nurses working in a hospice setting were more likely to remain respectful than those working in a hospital, although the sample size was significantly smaller, the Office of National Statistics said.
Mr McClean added: “Hospices are charities, and both of our clinical commisioning groups pump a lot of money into them, and I would really like to see more joined up care coming from all the agencies involved and more support. But it’s the old adage - it all boils down to money.
“Sometimes doctors and nurses can give that level of care in a hospital that they can give in a hospital. There just aren’t the resources.”
Meg Davey, deputy chief nurse and lead for patient experience at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “The trust promotes dignity and respect for all patients, and has a ‘transforming end of life care’ programme which trains all staff to support the care of patients whose potential for recovery is uncertain.
“We are confident that this training will further help our staff; nurses, support staff and doctors when treating these patients.
“In addition, in our recent inpatient survey, 71.4 per cent of our patients said overall they were always treated with dignity and respect.”