Page last updated at 00:06 GMT, Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Patients get care in cupboards and kitchens, say nurses

A nurse helps an elderly patient
More than 900 nurses were polled

Hospital patients are being treated in mop cupboards, storerooms and kitchens because wards are full, a survey of nurses has suggested.

Nearly two-thirds of the 900 nurses who took part in the poll said they were aware of cases of patients treated in areas not designed for care.

Some told the Nursing Times magazine that this puts patients at risk.

The government said local managers should ensure services were coping, but said overall care was good.

But while the practices cannot be interpreted as routine on every ward, the fact it is happening has raised alarm within the nurses' union.

Janet Davies, of the Royal College of Nursing, said: "While there may be, in occasional instances, legitimate reasons for treating someone in a non-clinical area, we are concerned at these findings.

Yet again, this survey highlights the gap between rhetoric and reality in the NHS lottery of care
Katherine Murphy
Patients Association

"As pressures inside the NHS start to rise due to budget cutbacks, it is vital that nurses and other healthcare staff are confident that their concerns over failures in patient care will be heard."

The nurses highlighted the lack of access to equipment and infection control as the main concerns to patient safety.

One nurse who responded to the poll said: "If a patient's condition suddenly deteriorated resulting in them having a cardiac arrest we would not be able to get the crash trolley to them."

The survey revealed that some nurses had been asked to treat extra patients in wards that were already full. Some also said fire exits had been blocked.

The survey was carried out by asking nurses across the UK to fill in an online questionnaire.

'World leaders'

A spokesman for the Department of Health said local managers should be making sure services were coping and she urged nurses with concerns to come forward.

She added: "The vast majority of NHS patients experience good quality, safe and effective care and that we are one of the world leaders in the international drive to improve the safety of healthcare.

"However, we acknowledge there is more to do and will continue to strive to make services even safer."

But Katherine Murphy, of the Patients Association, said: "This is completely unacceptable. Yet again, this survey highlights the gap between rhetoric and reality in the NHS lottery of care."

Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb said: "It is absolutely unacceptable that patient care is being compromised in this way."

And shadow health minister Anne Milton said: "This is truly shocking."

Print Sponsor

Basic care 'lacking' in hospitals
27 Aug 09 |  Health
New leaders for troubled hospital
15 Jul 09 |  Staffordshire
Minister sees hospital protesters
01 Jul 09 |  Staffordshire
Patients' fears 'being ignored'
28 Jun 09 |  Staffordshire

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2016 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific