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Hospital says sorry over putting patients in store rooms

PUBLISHED: 06:41 19 February 2010 | UPDATED: 09:17 01 August 2010

Dan Grimmer

Hospital bosses have apologised for making patients stay in rooms described as 'store cupboards' and pledged to review the practice.

Due to a lack of beds at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital many patients have been cared for in treatment rooms which they say are little more than stock cupboards.

Dan Grimmer

Hospital bosses have apologised for making patients stay in rooms described as “store cupboards” and pledged to review the practice.

Due to a lack of beds at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital many patients have been cared for in treatment rooms which they say are little more than stock cupboards.

The practice was first brought to light with the case of Rhoda Talbot, an 85-year-old from Tunstead, who stayed in one of the rooms overnight surrounded by bloodstained bins, electrical equipment and bandages.

Even though scores more patients complained about the treatment, hospital managers maintained it was “normal”. But following pressure from MPs, community leaders, nursing unions and the public, the chairman of the hospital, David Prior and chief executive Anna Dugdale, admitted putting people in the rooms was “not acceptable”.

They said: “The routine use of treatment rooms in the hospital for overnight patient stays is the last thing we want. The treatment rooms will only be used in exceptional circumstances where the alternative is the cancellation of an important operation and a long wait in A&E.

“We are reviewing the use of treatment rooms and immediately implementing a refurbishment programme so that if they have to be used, they are as patient-friendly as possible.

“The hospital has gained an additional 54 acute beds over the last three months (bringing the total to 1,010) and has access to 48 new rehabilitation beds in Norwich.

“We are determined to create the right capacity in the hospital so that treatment rooms are not needed. We are really sorry that a small number of patients have had to stay in treatment rooms overnight and we are determined to stop that.”

The move was welcomed by health campaigners and the family of patients - but many said they wanted to see a more long-term solution to the rising number of patients.

Rod Talbot, son of Rhoda Talbot, said: “I'm so pleased. It's deeply comforting to know that other patients won't have to go through what my mother went through. You don't know how it felt when we got there and found her in that room.”

Adrian Ing, regional officer for Norfolk for the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said: “The RCN is pleased that the N&N has recognised that the use of treatment rooms in this way is wrong, however, it remains to be seen whether the trust will now take immediate remedial action to ensure that this practice is stopped.

“The RCN has on previous occasions been assured that this was a short term “solution” yet the practice appears to have become customary.

“The N&N need to address the ongoing capacity and rehabilitation issues that lie at the heart of this problem to ensure that patients are cared for, at all times, in a dignified environment.”

North Norfolk MP and Lib Dem health spokesman Norman Lamb, said: “First of all I applaud bosses at the hospital for getting a grip and making a clear commitment to patients.

“Now it is essential they meet that clear commitment to bring an end to this unacceptable practice. I will be monitoring this, as will others, and if they do not meet patients' needs they will be tackled.”

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