SCOTLAND'S largest health board has been accused of failing to improve care for dementia patients, with the same problems repeatedly being identified at different hospitals.
A series of inspections on the care of elderly patients at eight hospitals in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHS GGC) over two years has flagged up concerns over issues such as wards not being "dementia friendly" and a lack of assessment of patients being carried out.
Worries about care of dementia patients across Scotland have also been highlighted in a recent progress report from inspection body Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS).
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The report found that in 12 out of 15 hospital inspections carried out between May 2013 to June 2014, screening for signs of dementia was not routinely carried out or recorded, even though national guidance states every patient aged 65 and over should be assessed for cognitive impairment when admitted to hospital.
And in all but one of the 13 hospitals inspected, it was found that legislation to protect the rights of patients who lack capacity to make decisions was not being fully implemented.
Duncan McNeil, Labour MSP for Greenock and Inverclyde, said he was concerned the HIS inspections were being viewed as an "event" to be managed, rather than being used to trigger improvements across the health board.
He said: "If you identify an issue in one hospital and then you go to another seven hospitals and you find the same problems, it suggests this is a systemic issue, there is a cultural or practical problem here.
"If an issue is highlighted in any given board area then why is action not being taken to ensure those hospitals that weren't inspected are reviewing their procedures?"
The first NHS GGC inspection report at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, published in 2012, raised concerns around a lack of care plans to identify patient's specific needs, the recording of key personal information for patients to be made by staff and the assessment of a patient's capacity to consent to treatment.
Two years later, an inspection at Inverclyde Royal Hospital raised similar concerns.
Inspectors highlighted issues around the environment in which dementia patients are looked after in seven hospitals, including a lack of activity for patients and poor signage to help them find their way around wards.
McNeil, who is also convener of the Scottish Parliament's health and sport committee, acknowledged improvements had been made since inspections of the care of older people in hospitals were first carried out two years ago by HIS.
But he said similar issues had repeatedly cropped up in wards across the country.
Jim Pearson, deputy director of policy at Alzheimer Scotland, said there had been significant improvements in hospital care for patients with dementia in recent years.
But he added: "We know that many people with dementia and their families are still having poor experiences.
"Improving the care and treatment of people with dementia in hospitals is a key commitment in Scotland's national dementia strategy."
A spokeswoman for NHS GGC said it had set up an acute dementia group, which was focused on meeting the key actions in the national dementia strategy.