Photo shows hospital beds squeezed next to each other with no privacy

NNUH bed ward

One patient took this photo of her bed at the NNUH in a ward where extra beds are being squeezed in to increase capacity - Credit: Submitted

Patients are being robbed of their privacy after a hospital took the drastic step to remove curtains between beds so more could be squeezed into wards.

As reported on Wednesday, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital has moved seven beds into rooms designed for six to make room for more patients.

Chief nurse, Professor Nancy Fontaine said "extreme measures" were needed to cope with "unprecedented pressure", as the hospital hit its highest alert level.

Now, one woman, who is in the hospital, has sent photos to this newspaper of what that looks like for patients.

Her photos show no screen or curtain between beds which are around 90 centimetres from one another.

She said she was worried about catching Covid in the hospital with other patients so close. 

“You’ve effectively got two people where one should be," she said. "The only thing between me and the next patient is a small table. You have no privacy and when the doctor speaks to you everyone can hear everything. It makes me very anxious.”  

NNUH bed ward

One patient took this photo of her bed at the NNUH in a ward where extra beds are being squeezed in to increase capacity - Credit: Submitted

She added: “I feel really sorry for the staff. People are having a go at them but it is not their fault.” 

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The 32 year old said they had been told to wear masks at all times and windows in the room had been opened. 

Professor Fontaine told staff in an email that the step was "far from ideal" but told staff that it was safer than leaving patients waiting a long time for an ambulance or to get into A&E.

This week, the entire health system in Norfolk and Waveney declared a "critical incident" meaning its is unable to manage current pressure and patients are at increased risk of harm. 

They said several things were causing the extreme pressures, including a rise in Covid patients and problems discharging people from hospital to care homes. 

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