A FORMAL investigation has been launched after nurses were accused of treating elderly patients 'like sacks of potatoes'.

West Middlesex Hospital has taken action after three patients - one aged 94 and another a nurse herself - spoke out about their 'appalling' treatment.

They claimed medics denied them painkillers, despite their being in obvious distress, and refused to help a centenarian feed herself.

The episode represents a spectacular own goal for West Mid, which only last week boasted about having three 101-year-olds on the same ward, Marble Hill.

One of those centenarians, who cannot be named, was among the 'victims' of the shoddy nursing before being moved to Marble Hill ward.

All the complaints related to two shifts on March 29 and 30 in the hospital's rehabilitation escalation ward, where six patients aged between 39 and 101 were being treated.

One woman, a school nurse recovering from a ruptured Achilles tendon, told the Chronicle how the standard of care had been excellent apart from those two shifts.

"There were some fantastic nurses on the ward but the way we were treated on those days was appalling," said the 39-year-old, who wished to remain anonymous.

"They weren't giving people enough pain relief and when we asked them to do things they said 'no, that's not my job'.

"I even had to help a 101-year-old feed herself because they refused.

"They were treating patients like sacks of potatoes and the whole experience made me embarrassed to say I'm a nurse."

The patient felt compelled to speak out after reading how the percentage of staff assaulted or verbally abused at West Mid had leapt in the last year to more than a quarter.

"The abuse many nurses receive is inexcusable but it's important people know patients can suffer similar treatment," she said.

A hospital spokesman confirmed it had launched a formal investigation into the complaints, which are focused on the actions of three nurses.

"We would like to thank them for bringing their concerns to our attention in order that we can work to resolve any issues and learn from this," he added.