A hospital is investigating allegations of “neglect” of some elderly patients witnessed by a care assistant.

Watford General Hospital said it took “very seriously” claims made by care worker Samantha Agca of patients being laughed at and told to “shut their mouth” when asking to use the toilet on November 30.

Ms Agca, 26, who has worked in nursing homes and palliative care facilities for nearly ten years, was visiting a former client on the Acute Assessment Unit when she said she witnessed “disgraceful neglect” of three patients during visiting hours.

She told the Watford Observer her experience compelled her to “speak out”.

At around 8.30pm, Ms Agca said a “polite” lady in her 80s asked three separate members of staff to “spend a penny”.

She said the first told the lady to “speak to your own nurse” before turning her back, while the second and third walked past and did not respond.

After 25 minutes, she said the elderly woman was clasping the “lower part of her tummy in discomfort” – at which point, Ms Agca confronted the first member of staff who “started laughing”.

A health care assistant then allegedly brought a bed pan and told the woman to “push a button when she had finished” before the curtain was drawn – but Ms Agca claimed the elderly woman was too “frail and old” to do all this herself.

She said another witness described the incident as “awful”.

She said it was “heart-breaking” because the woman was “overlooked” for a total of 45 minutes from making the request to finishing, and that she might have been susceptible to infection.

In a second incident on the same night, Ms Agca said a patient was calling a male health care assistant from an adjacent ward connected to the AAU.

At this point, the man allegedly turned round and shouted at the patient in front of visitors, “Can you just shut your mouth?”.

Ms Agca said she felt “anger and disgust” by this, adding: “I just thought about my own family, in this job I don’t treat any of my clients any less than I’d treat my own family.”

Within an hour and on the same ward, another “distressed” lady in her 40s wanted to use the toilet.

“She was trying to get out of bed, she was emotional, she was crying and in distress,” she said.

“A member of staff went over and she told him she needed to ‘go to the toilet and freshen up’.

“He said, ‘Can you take yourself?’ She then became really distressed and said, ‘Don’t you realise a can’t walk and I need a commode and frame?’

“The staff member said they would get these things for her and she replied, ‘I don’t trust you’re going to help me’.”

But the staff member did return “ten minutes later” and helped the woman.

Speaking to the Watford Observer, Ms Agca said: “It’s neglect and it’s disgraceful the way the elderly community have been basically ignored.

“These people should not be in this service if they haven’t got the heart and I pray my parents never end up at Watford General.

“If this is seen as acceptable in front of visitors, what the Hell is going on when visiting hours are over?

“It could be argued this behaviour is impacting on the health and mental wellbeing of patients.”

Ms Acga also said in the case of the first woman “left in her own faeces and urine” there was risk of infection.

She said she complained at the reception desk where she was told to contact Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS), which she said was “passing the buck”.

Ms Acga said a ward manager and senior sister for the AAU has since contacted her to discuss her complaint.

Chief nurse Tracey Carter said: “We take these allegations about staff behaviour on our Acute Assessment Unit very seriously. We are trying to make direct contact with the person who has raised them so we can investigate.

“We would always urge any member of staff, patient or visitor who has any concerns to raise them with the nurse in charge or a senior member of staff so we can respond and act immediately.”