Comments on "Undercover Nurse", first broadcast on Wednesday 20 July 2005 at 21:00 BST.
The views expressed on these pages are not necessarily the views of the BBC. The e-mails published will be reflective of the balance of opinion received.
Panorama received over 800 emails following the programme. The comments published are a reflection of the views contained in those emails.
Some of the issues raised by this programme are too familiar - patients aren't left out of malicious neglect. Often it is because there are just too many demands on nurses and a total lack of support. Staff are tired, stressed and over worked. Sickness is high contributing towards poor staffing levels. Management are reluctant to recruit additional staff due to meeting budgets. It is normal to leave a shift in tears because you know you have not done your job as you should have done. I'm not condoning behaviour displayed in this programme but please consider - nurses don't do this out of choice. Wards are criminally understaffed and patients and staff are left to suffer as a result.
Karen Tomlin, Northampton
Well done Panorama for bringing this to the attention of the public but alas I don't think that this experience in Brighton is an isolated event. My grandmother is currently in hospital and I sadly can recognise many of the same issues: no help to assist patients eating, patients having to wait for the toilet, basic lack of care standards, leaving patients in the chair all night on one occasion or with soiled sheets. This is a scandal that requires immediate government action and not lame excuses. Bring back the matrons now and re-introduce some good nursing practices before more people suffer and even die
Keith Smith, Congleton, England
I am shocked to see this programme. My mother has just died from cancer aged 67 and she was treated similarly, to an extent where no one would feed her unless we were there or really made a fuss. What you are showing is not just at that hospital, it is in others too and it makes me so angry that wonderful people are left to die in such a dreadful, frightening environment. She ended up at the local hospice - and they were amazing there - so caring and respectful. It makes me so mad that people have to suffer this. Please, please do something about it.
Jane Warner, Chester, England
The programme was nauseating. There is no doubt there is an acute shortage of nurses - but please do not try these gimmicks to undermine the great work they are doing. What the society needs is a lot of input from the relatives (I know they have paid to be looked after by the state, but the resources are finite). The under cover nurse would have done much better to be on the NHS payroll than making a quick buck as a agency nurse. The patient care would have been that much better. I was surprised that not a single positive aspect of nursing care was shown in the whole programme. It's time we had an undercover operation to look at the ethics of undercover journalists! This is not just defending poor care - but a question of being fair.
S Alexander, London
How is it possible a Chief Executive still has his position after this exposure? In private business this performance would not be tolerated. Your undercover agent should be in charge of the hospital not him.
D Tritton, Canterbury
This programme shows the disgusting levels that treatment has fallen to in our hospitals around the country not only of the elderly but all patients. My wife was admitted to a coronary care unit and there was quite often only one nurse responsible for 16 patients and toilet waits were unacceptable.
David Walker, Lincoln, UK
I am totally disgusted at the way the people on this programme, "Undercover Nurse", were treated.
In this country, old people should not be treated like this in this day and age. The nurses in this programme should be sacked and replaced by caring nurses. I feel ashamed of our NHS that they can treat patients like this.
Reverend Colin Thomson, Manchester, UK
As a Brit abroad, I must say that this programme has made me immensely ashamed of our esteemed NHS. The only thing I can hold onto to quash the absolute revulsion I felt at seeing such an appalling lack of care, is the belief that this ward must surely have been a one-off. Having had a 95-year-old aunt who spent much of the end of her life in an NHS hospital, I know that the majority of nurses do care. I assume that disciplinary action will be brought against the negligent people shown in this programme. Of course, that will not bring back dignity to any of the elderly people who suffered, but will perhaps teach the hospital that "caring for our elders" is something the UK truly believes in.
Richard Queripel, Brussels, Belgium
As Registered Nurse with 30-plus years experience I was disgusted at the lack of basic care portrayed in "Undercover Nurse". Who is to blame? At ward level, it's a problem of human relationships; modern hospital care is ruled by targets and statistics, the human factor has been eliminated. At hospital level the managers are so engrossed in meeting their targets they never walk the wards. At regional level a whole cadre of middle managers analyse the targets and budgets, oblivious to the human element they are paid to supervise.
Nursing used to be a vocation, now it has become 'professional', a status that appears to have eliminated the caring relationship which used to epitomise the nursing ethic. As for the hospital portrayed, anyone who holds a position of responsibility there should be investigated, and, if found wanting, sacked immediately. (Especially that pompous supervisor who resented patients actually choosing their own menus). Thanks BBC for exposing the cynical abandonment of basic nursing care.
John Stevenson, Faversham, Kent
This is the NHS that us Brits used to be proud of. The last two weeks of Panorama have shown an NHS to be ashamed of. When is the government going to put it's hands up and admit that the service that we pay our taxes for is failing us all miserably? How many more people are going to die without dignity in our filthy, understaffed, under-resourced hospitals before the government step in and address the neglect of the health service and its patients?
Where did Nye Bevan's vision of a quality health service for all go so fundamentally wrong?
Phip Woodhatch, Fleet, Hampshire
Please remember that not all wards are like this. Nurses work very hard in some very difficult conditions, often desperately short of staff trying for a poor salary and often no thanks from senior staff. Programmes like this do nothing to help nurses - and if anything is detrimental to the morale of the majority of nurses who work hard and try to do the best for their patients. What I would like to see is a programme showing nurses working hard and giving their patients what they need on the ward - but that wouldn't make good TV. Maybe it is time to start encouraging the men and women who keep the NHS going and forget about "good sensational TV".
I don't even know what to write, I know I just have to write something. Basic human needs not met, food workers/nurses not wanting to help people, what a farce. I really felt for the elderly people who needed help to drink and eat, and just could not manage without help.
Claire Warren, Glasgow, UK
I was so shocked by what i saw from the programme. It deeply affected me and made me so angry and sad. I do not understand why the basic needs of a patient are not being met by the nurses. It sounds simple enough to record food/water intake in charts. This programme only clarified how I feel about the NHS and how people cannot do their jobs properly. This programme has actually made me want to become a nurse or even volunteer at these wards, because it is obvious that what is lacking are people who care.
Lisa Lam, Scotland
I'm training to be a student nurse and I thought this programme was fantastic as it highlighted the care that is given in some NHS hospitals and problems that occur due to lack of staffing in wards. As a future nurse it shocked me a bit but this kind of thing happens and it is better that people are aware of it. Well done for this brilliant programme.
Emma Mitchell, Glasgow
I must comment on the appalling treatment of the very sick patients, especially those with cancer. It was heartbreaking to watch and feel so helpless. It is a disgrace to think this is going on in 2005. The undercover nurse should be rewarded for having the guts for bringing this out in the open. The Chief Executive should not keep his position. Well done Panorama.
Elaine Humphreys, Chelmsford, Essex
Wouldn't it be wonderful if Panorama went undercover to expose some areas of excellence for a change.
Margaret Pierce, England
I just want to say thank you for putting together such a revealing insight into the present situation in care services. It was a harrowing experience just as a spectator, and left me feeling extremely angry. People who lived through the Holocaust, World Wars and so much more are denied dignity and self respect. It's a disgusting situation - one which can no longer be ignored by the public or those with political power.
Victoria Lain, UK
I would just like to say that after watching the programme this evening about the undercover nurse, I was appalled and so upset that the most basic care was missing in this hospital. I have been a nurse for 29 years and could never treat my patients in that way, it made me cry. It also caused me concern about getting old and becoming a patient on a ward such as that. If we can't give basic TLC then where are we going?
Angela Roche, Wales
Brilliant programme on "Undercover Nurse". I will be writing to my MP because I am appalled by the nursing care. I trained in the early 1990s and the problems were starting then. I vowed never to work in my local large district hospital, and never did. I am ashamed of our NHS and frightened as a prospective future patient. People only believe it when programmes like yours are shown on TV.
J Friend, UK
I am not at all surprised by the content of this an the previous Panorama programme on cleanliness. It accords completely with my experiences when visiting relatives.
I believe that the quality of management and supervision are vital to making changes and improvements. Do managers talk to patients? Are they interested in the care patients receive or are they only thinking about staffing rotas and budgets?
How many visitors did these people have? Is there a role for a nurse or a volunteer whose role would be as an advocate for people who have very few people to speak for them? Having other people on the ward would at least be a deterrent to bad practice and abuse of patients.
Ann Francis, Reading, UK
I was extremely saddened by the programme "Undercover Nurse". I myself worked with the elderly in a care home and, although I worked as a care assistant and not a nurse, it was the most rewarding thing I had ever done. Providing basic care to these people who have lost the ability to care for themselves means so much to them. I don't think younger people would have to put up with it, so why do they? We should be making the remaining days/weeks/months of their lives at least comfortable. I myself will be enquiring about how I can become a volunteer to help!
Shelley Fry, Bristol, United Kingdom
I have sat and watched this programme with total horror and disgust. Those patients sacrificed a lot for future generations to live in freedom. Many of them no doubt would have worked solidly for all there adult lives and this is the way we repay them. We owe it to them to treat them with the dignity they so rightly deserve. Right now I am ashamed to say I am British, We would not treat an animal in this way . We need to make the government do something today, not next week or month.
Jacquie Gammon, Bodmin, Cornwall
It would be a travesty of justice if the nurse who did the filming were to be out of her profession for nothing other than showing compassion to the elderly and needy patients. Sack Mr Coles.
Ian Caldwell, Kilmarnock, Scotland
I am amazed that we all seem to be aware of the standard of care in our hospitals and are constantly having its poor standards brought to our attention if not by the media then by friends and relatives, first hand yet nothing whatsoever seems to improve, in fact the opposite is obviously true, it is getting worse. I hope this programme will be retained in the sights of those responsible for long enough for it to make a difference.
I just sat and cried, what a total disgrace, what a disgusting way to treat patients, the male nurse with his attitude amounts to abuse, the male supervisor from ISS mediclean should be sacked, what right does he have to keep food from patients . If the lack of care does not kill these patients - does this amount to professional and criminal neglect? - then MRSA will. Shame on this profession, the hospital trust and the government for failing the patients.
H Humphrey, Norfolk
I watched the Panorama programme this evening and we were utterly shocked. The undercover reporters were obviously very disturbed and distressed. The hospital should be ashamed, and also we feel that the catering supervisor should be named as should the nurse who was very rude to one of the male patients. The Chief Executive appeared to be very uncaring and dismissive. The programme was excellent, but very very disturbing and worrying for retired folk as ourselves.
Lilian Gaywood, Tonbridge, England
I would like to thank Margaret for being brave enough to highlight these poor patients plight, I used to be a care assistant in two different hospitals one was a private care home the other an NHS, and the treatment in these were alot like the care in your programme and I wish I could have helped my patients more but no one would listen to me. God bless you Margaret for the care that you showed and I hope god will forgive those carers who did nothing but insult these poor people and I would like them to remember that one day we will all be old and may need some basic human care.
Mrs Jane Paul, Glasgow Scotland
Having served 22 years in the British army I thought I had seen some sad and heartbraking situatioins. Tonight I feel ashamed and sad to see how poor and disgusting the standard of health care when it comes to the elderly. Tonight's programme showed how much this government and the so called health executives feel about the elderly who gave so much to ensure our existence today. Surely it is about time these people who hold such important positions should be brought to task.
Steven Allen Stout MBE, Warrington, England
Well done to the Panorama team for highlighting the appalling state of our nations so called 'care' for the elderly. I am 35 years of age, single with no close family other than my mother. What will happen to myself and the rest of my generation in forty years time? After watching tonight I fear becoming old and in need of hospital care. I truly hope I never have to be treated so inhumanely, with such little respect and care for basic needs. Let us hope that after seeing your programme that something may actually change. I applaud your team and the two ladies involved in the undercover filming, they showed compassion and gave those patients some diginity in the last days of their life, a basic right for us all.
Geoff Turner, Whiston, England
As a nurse on a very busy surgical ward often with elderly frail patients and very highly dependant patients, I can appreciate the demands made on the nurses of Stewart ward. In an ideal situation we would have the time to care for our patients so all their basic needs are met. With current staffing levels basic hygiene needs and feeding of patients is difficult to achieve to a satisfactory standard.
Of course it all comes down to funding. Trusts are hugely overspent and having to make cuts and close beds in order to clear their debts. There is not the time on a busy shift to carry out nursing to a high standard. Nurses are burnt out and demoralised. I often go home feeling i have not cared for my patients as well as i would like to. The only way to raise standards is to pay nurses a decent wage so they feel valued and are attracted to the profession. Relying on overseas nurses is not the answer but one which many trusts are falling back on.
Some of the practices highlighted are obviously unacceptable and cannot be excused. I believe that the vast majority of nurses work to the best of their ability under tremendous stress and heavy workloads. We are in this profession to care-but cannot spread ourselves any thinner than we already do.what is the answer?
'A Nurse', England
I have just watched the undercover nurse and felt that I had to make comment. As I health care professional I felt sickened by the contents of the programme.
I am appalled that people who desperately require care - basic care - are being denied this, and treated in such a degrading way. It appeared that minimal measures had been taken to change the situation, which had not changed at all. It is an absolute disgrace that there were not adequate staff to provide basic care. And regarding the two male staff that spoke to patients, or rather shouted and bullied - they don't deserve to remain in the 'caring profession'.
Quality of life can not always be measured in financial terms, and to think these were the conditions in which people spent there last hours and days of life should make us, as human beings, ashamed. I have never placed a view online before but feel so strongly about what I have just seen that I felt I had to make comment.
I am lucky enough never to have witnessed such treatment, or lack of, in my own career, however, these people are too ill or unable to voice their concerns so others need to. I sincerely hope that the making of this programme impacts at a wider level to ensure not one more individual has to endure what the people featured had to.
I hope she doesn`t lose her job as a nurse, she sounds like one of the most dedicated nurses around, we need more like her and also more awareness of these problems she has encountered.
Emma Eyre, Vicarage Gate
I am very shocked and upset with the condition the people shown on the program. I am angry and discusted with the actions and conduct of the staff, and the running of the hospital shown. I thank you for bringing this atrocious state of affairs, and hope the situation is quickly rectified and the people get what is coming to them.
Nicholas Saunders, London England
This was a programme that needed to be made. How shameful that we treat these most vulnerable members of our society with such disdain and indifference. My admiration goes to the undercover nurse who was prepared to risk her career to show this terrible lack of care. Surely some government funding intervention is needed to provide the appropriate staffing and training levels?
Jan Recht, le Vésinet, France
I feel the need to voice my comments regarding the nurse involved with the undercover filming. This is not the way to correct problems within the NHS, not only is it underhand and dishonest but it does break the nursing code of conduct. There are many systems in place to allow nurses to voice their concerns, some of these outside of the hospitals allowing safe and confidential comment. The nurses union, RCN are only too happy to assist nurses who feel the need to take action regarding the level of staffing and care in their place of work. Sensationalising the situation with under cover filming only further degrades the patients,staff and hospital involved. I am deeply saddened that the nurses employed on this ward have not felt able or willing to use the systems in place to improved both the patient care and working conditions on this ward. I am disgusted that incidents such as a male nurse raising his voice to a vulnerable patient were witnessed by the holder of the camera without them intervening. Which is more important? to obtain the footage required to make a documentary? or to act as a trustworthy advocate for vulnerable people.
Clare Lawless, uk