'Gold standard' for elderly care
Hospitals must strive to achieve a "gold standard" of care for vulnerable elderly patients so the Mid Staffordshire scandal is never repeated, leading doctors have said.
The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) said hospital wards should be able to receive a quality mark for providing excellent care for older people.
Issuing a formal response to the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust public inquiry, the RCP said many instances of substandard care at the trust took place in wards caring for frail older people.
The organisation said elderly patients should be a priority, adding that if the NHS gets care right for this group of patients, it is likely to be improved for others.
The public inquiry was launched after it was found that poor care could have led to the deaths of hundreds of patients as a result of maltreatment and neglect.
The inquiry highlighted the "appalling and unnecessary suffering of hundreds of people" at the trust.
Probes into the scandal revealed that many patients were left lying in their own urine and excrement for days, forced to drink water from vases or given the wrong medication.
The RCP's response to the inquiry makes a number of recommendations to help the NHS respond to public inquiry chairman Robert Francis QC.
It pledged to develop an "Elder-friendly Ward Quality Mark" which will be distributed to general hospital wards that provide a high quality service.
The response says: "The RCP believes that a quality mark for wards will help to address the bad practice identified by Francis that resulted in substandard care. For example, the measures include a questionnaire gathering feedback from older patients directly about the quality of essential care. Following a pilot, the programme is being rolled out with the first quality mark expected to be awarded in 2014."