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I was moved to hospital stock cupboard

PUBLISHED: 13:00 13 February 2010 | UPDATED: 08:08 02 July 2010

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

Victoria Leggett

A patient moved to a "stock cupboard" at Norwich's main hospital has told how she had to put up with the indignity of nurses walking in and out as she spoke to a doctor about a suspected miscarriage.

A patient seen by doctors in a “stock cupboard” at Norwich's main hospital has told how she had to put up with the indignity of nurses walking in and out as she spoke about a suspected miscarriage.

Elizabeth Fox is among numerous patients at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital to come forward and tell of their anger at the use of what has been described as a “stock cupboard” to treat patients in.

As revealed by the Evening News yesterday, two Norfolk MPs have called for an investigation into why people are being asked to stay in the 12ft by 16ft spaces, surrounded by blood-stained bins, bandages and electrical equipment.

Today, as hospital bosses defended the move, more people came forward to tell of their anger.

Mrs Fox was sent to the hospital two weeks ago when, at 10 weeks pregnant, she began to bleed.

She spent 45 minutes in a ward treatment room, which she called a “stock cupboard”, answering personal questions about her health as nurses nipped in to collect bandages and equipment.

The 30-year-old was then told she needed an internal examination which the medic planned to do in the same room.

She said: “We were shown into a stock cupboard by a junior doctor. It contained all the equipment for the ward and even the Christmas tree packed away in its box in one corner.”

It was only when her husband Christopher stepped in that she was moved to a private examination room.

Mrs Fox said: “Fortunately my husband was strong enough to say no way, it wasn't happening in a room where there was a constant stream of people coming in and out with no privacy or dignity.”

The pensions administrator, of Old Catton, decided to come forward with her story after reading about Rhoda Talbot and two other patients in yesterday's Evening News.

They were forced to stay overnight in what the hospital calls “ward treatment rooms” - surrounded by packed shelves and frequently disturbed by staff collecting supplies.

She said: “I know it won't change what happened to us, but I hope the more people that come forward, something may eventually be done so other people don't have to go through what we have.”

Today hospital spokesman Andrew Stronach once again defended the hospital's practices.

He said the treatment rooms were designed for just this type of situation - to carry out investigations and give appropriate treatments.

But he added: “If the door to a treatment room is closed then we would expect staff to knock before entering and if that has not happened then we would apologise.”

Mrs Fox said the rooms were not even suitable for short treatments and was grateful she was not forced to spend a night there like other patients had been.

The couple had to return to the hospital the next day for a scan and were shown into exactly the same room.

The results showed that, at the time, she had not lost the baby but a week later they were back for a third time where the miscarriage was confirmed.

Mrs Fox described the process as “horrendous” and said the constant interruptions during the consultation made a distressing situation far worse.

She also questioned whether the rooms were hygienic enough to be used for internal examinations.

Adrian Ing, the Royal College of Nursing's regional officer in Norfolk, described the situation as “awful” for the nursing staff who were on the front line.

He said: “They have to apologise. It's awful for the nurses as well, they feel terrible having to do that.

“We don't want this to become a regular feature of care. It's not an acceptable scenario and shouldn't happen.”

Mr Ing said the nurses always wanted to give patients the best possible care but also understood there was a huge demand on bed space at the NNUH.

He added: “It's better to have a patient on a bed in a treatment room than on a trolley.”

A health campaign group has also expressed concerns about the number of hospital patients being housed in treatment rooms.

Katherine Murphy, director of the Patients Association, said it was “not unusual” for patients to find themselves in such conditions.

Have you been treated in one of the wards? Contact the Evening News on 01603 772443 or by emailing newsdesk@archant.co.uk

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