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Patients kept in storerooms at Norwich hospital

PUBLISHED: 11:57 12 February 2010 | UPDATED: 08:06 02 July 2010

85 year old Rhoda Talbot was put into a store room at Norwich hospital

85 year old Rhoda Talbot was put into a store room at Norwich hospital

Victoria Leggett

Blood-stained bins, bandages and electrical equipment - this was the treatment room 85-year-old Rhoda Talbot was forced to spend the night in during a recent hospital visit.

Blood-stained bins, bandages and electrical equipment - this was the treatment room 85-year-old Rhoda Talbot was forced to spend the night in during a recent hospital visit.

The family of the pensioner, who was moved into the 12ft by 16ft space while she waited to be discharged last week, described it as a “stock cupboard”.

It comes as two other patients - an 80-year-old and a 35-year-old - also came forward with their very similar experiences of the treatment rooms ahead of emergency surgeries in January this year and last October.

Two Norfolk MPs have called for a thorough investigation, with Norman Lamb, north Norfolk MP and Lib Dem health spokesman, insisting it must change.

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital defended its use of the rooms saying they freed up beds for new patients in need of acute care.

Mrs Talbot, of Tunstead, near Wroxham, was admitted to hospital with a hair-line fracture to her spine on January 25 and spent most of her time in single or double rooms on Heydon Ward.

The day before she was discharged, the pensioner was moved to what her family have called a “stock cupboard” - a ward treatment room.

Her son Rod Talbot said: “It was literally a store room. There was shelf racking filled with stuff used to run the ward, green buckets with dirty, bloody needles in and oxygen cylinders.”

Mr Talbot said nursing staff had apologised when he arrived at the hospital to visit his mother on February 3 and discovered she had been moved.

The pensioner did not leave the hospital until the following day and had to spend the night in the room, with nurses regularly coming in to collect supplies.

When she was collected by her family the next day she said: “I'm absolutely shattered. They were in and out all night. Every time they came in they turned the light on.”

The NNUH said Mrs Talbot had been assessed by staff and moved to the treatment room while she waited to go home.

A spokesman said: “As Mrs Talbot was medically fit for discharge, this meant we could admit a new patient who needed acute hospital care.”

The spokesman said while they were only appropriate for patients on a short-term basis, it was occasionally necessary to leave them there until the next morning rather than send them home in the middle of the night.

Mr Lamb said he understood the hospital was under “impossible pressure” to free up more space but added: “Where you have got someone who is recovering, shoved into what looks like a stock room and being constantly disturbed, it is not an acceptable arrangement.”

He said he was pleased the family had released the photos to highlight the problem and called for a thorough investigation.

Chloe Smith, Norwich North MP, said: “It hardly seems like the treatment frail and vulnerable people would wish to have at a hospital. I hope the hospital will consider the practice carefully.”

The Care Quality Commission, which regulates health and social care, said it had been made aware of the issue and was talking to the NNUH Trust about it. A spokesman said: “We will take action if it is found that action is at all required.”

Mrs Talbot's son said he was not angry with the nurses, who had been “brilliant” throughout his mum's treatment, but felt she deserved an apology from the hospital's decision makers.

A hospital spokesman said it was sorry to hear Mrs Talbot was not happy with her stay and encouraged patients and their families to contact them with their concerns.

Mr Talbot said he planned to write a letter to the NNUH's chief executive about the problem.

It is not the first time the hospital has been forced to defend its use of the treatment rooms.

In October last year the Evening News reported how 99-year-old Margery Cockaday was left “distressed and upset” after being moved out her bed because it was needed by another patient.

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