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Patients kept in store cupboards - across UK

PUBLISHED: 10:29 10 March 2010 | UPDATED: 08:42 02 July 2010

Kim Briscoe

Just weeks after the Evening News told how patients at a Norwich hospital were being kept overnight in rooms described as "store cupboards", it has emerged that patients across the country are routinely being treated in areas of hospitals not designed for care.

Just weeks after the Evening News told how patients at a Norwich hospital were being kept overnight in rooms described as “store cupboards”, it has emerged that patients across the country are routinely being treated in areas of hospitals not designed for care.

A survey of more than 900 nurses across the UK found nurses were being asked to treat patients in store rooms, mop cupboards, wards that are already full and, in one case, a kitchen area.

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) came under fire last monthfor placing patients in cramped treatment rooms when it had run out of beds.

Although the rooms are specifically designed for clinical care, some patients had to stay in them overnight and likened them to store rooms because they contain shelves packed high with clinical and medical equipment.

Within just 24 hours of the Evening News launching its End The Indignity campaign, those in charge pledged a review and work has now begun on refurbishment programme involving redecorating and removing supplies to cupboards on wards, so that if the rooms have to be used they are as patient friendly as possible.

Shocking photographs showing 85-year-old Rhoda Talbot, of Tunstead, in one of the rooms at the NNUH were released by her horrified family and brought the issue to national attention.

Now this latest survey, carried out by the Nursing Times, has highlighted how some hospitals could be putting patients' safety at risk, by using non-clinical areas for treatment on a regular basis.

One nurse said patients had started describing an area normally used to store linen and equipment, where beds were being put, as an “overspill car park”.

One said: “There is little room around the three beds and it would be difficult to get a crash trolley into any of the beds. There is no privacy, no oxygen and no call bell.”

Today a spokesman for the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital said the refurbishment of its treatment rooms was progressing well.

He added: “This survey appears to show that many hospitals are using non-clincial areas as treatment rooms, which has not been the case here.

“The rooms we used were designed to be used for clinical care, for example for having dressings changed or wounds looked at.”

Do you have a story for the Evening News? Contact reporter Kim Briscoe on 01603 772419 or email kim.briscoe@archant.co.uk.

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