Nurses have been urged to report colleagues who deliver poor care.
Delegates at the Royal College of Nursing's (RCN) annual conference in Liverpool were told it was right that examples of poor nursing were exposed.
Andrea Spyropoulos, president of the RCN, said although infrequent, there were examples of poor care.
A report from the Health Service Ombudsman, published in February, exposed "appalling care" for some elderly patients.
"Stories like these send shivers down our spines," she said.
"Not just because of how hard it is to hear about such shocking levels of care, but because each of us knows it's not an isolated instance, not a 'one off' – we've sadly seen cases like it before."
Thankfully most patients got good care and reported their experience as good or excellent, she continued.
But this offered "no excuse" to those families whose loved ones had suffered.
She said there were many reasons for poor care but it remained a fact that "there are some people in this profession who shouldn't be".
"They are a very small number and might not be in every hospital or clinical setting, but there are nurses who just don't deliver good care."
Ms Spyropoulos said nurses could report poorly performing colleagues through the RCN's confidential hotline.
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Royal College of Nursing