A hospital trust will apologise to the families of 38 people who suffered what human rights lawyers have called "appalling" failures of care, following successful legal action.

In one of the worst cases of mistreatment, an 84-year-old man starved to death at the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch, Worcestershire in June 2009.

Some patients treated by the Worcestershire Acute NHS Hospital Trust were left thirsty with drinks left out of reach while others were left to sit in their own excrement.

In another instance an elderly woman went unwashed for 11 weeks and later died, and a man who was unable to feed himself, and whose nurses would simply take his uneaten food away, according to his daughter.

There were further claims from the families of a man whose ribs were broken while hospital staff attempted to lift him, and a great-grandmother whose hip fracture went undetected by doctors.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he was "disgusted and appalled" to read the families' and patients' accounts saying the Department for Health would be "keeping a careful eye" on the situation.

Lawyers for the families started a class action against the trust 15 months ago, after failings in basic day-to-day care were highlighted in a report by health watchdog the Care and Quality Commission (CQC).

Health bosses at the trust agreed in November to write to each of the families apologising for lapses in care, but have not admitted legal liability. Many of the families will also receive a financial payment of on average about £10,000 - totalling £410,000 altogether.

Emma Jones, a human rights lawyer with Leigh Day & Co which brought the legal action, said: "The failings we uncovered were appalling. Vulnerable and elderly patients were left starving and thirsty, with drinks left out of reach, buzzers ignored and people not being taken to the toilet and instead left to sit in their own faeces by the very people meant to be caring for them.

In a statement, the trust accepted "care fell below the requisite standard" but added "significant" improvements had since been made to levels of patient care. The incidents all took place between 2002 and 2011, with 35 cases brought against the Alexandra Hospital and three against the Worcestershire Royal Hospital, Worcester.