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Friday, 18 January, 2002, 08:57 GMT
Doctors 'forced to sleep in cars'
Doctors said the accommodation was unacceptable
Junior doctors at an Ayrshire hospital claim they have been forced to sleep in their cars because the hospital accommodation is so poor.

Managers rejected the charges - but admitted that some doctors' living areas are sub-standard and require improvement.

Doctors at Crosshouse Hospital in Kilmarnock said they had slept in offices and in their cars in the hospital car park because they were dissatisfied with "on-call" accommodation.

Crosshouse Hospital
Crosshouse Hospital is at the centre of the row
They claimed there was sometimes no hot or cold running water in the rooms and that family residential accommodation was damp and had inadequate sound and light-proofing.

However, a spokesman for the hospital said it was not aware of any such problems, and the accommodation was similar to that at hospitals across Scotland.

Medical director Gerry Watson said the doctors' rooms were of sound good quality.

However, the hospital has stopped charging doctors for accommodation.

'Very concerned'

It will need to be upgraded because it falls short of national minimum standards.

Deputy Health Minister Mary Mulligan said she had been "very concerned" when she heard the doctors' allegations.

"We asked the independent implementation support group to go in and have a look, and they did that yesterday," she told BBC Scotland on Friday.

"It found that while the accommodation wasn't everything they might have wished for they could not find examples of what was being reported."

We believe the accommodation is of good quality but we accept that, in certain respects, it does not meet the required standards

Crosshouse Hospital spokesman
Ms Mulligan said there would be discussions with Ayrshire and Arran Acute NHS Trust after ministers received the group's report.

Scottish junior doctors' spokesman, Jim McCaul, has described the situation as a scandal.

Dr Chris Turner told BMA News: "The on-call accommodation is so bad that sometimes there is no hot and cold running water.

"On one occasion, a female doctor turned up at her on-call room to find another doctor of the opposite sex in the bed.

"Doctors have slept in offices and even in their cars in the hospital car park, which has security implications.

Accommodation assessment

"This is ruining the quality of life for juniors and means patients are being treated by people who have not slept properly."

A spokesman for Crosshouse Hospital said: "We will be very surprised if there are major problems as we believe it is no different to similar accommodation throughout all Scottish hospitals.

"No charges are being made to those doctors who are compulsorily resident on-call and, in view of our own assessment of the accommodation, a decision had already been made to discontinue charging for voluntary residence.

"We believe the accommodation is of good quality but we accept that, in certain respects, it does not meet the required standards."

Forbes McFall reports
"The hospital rejects claims that doctors had to sleep in cars"
BBC Scotland's Huw Williams reports
"The hospital has accepted that the accommodation has to be brought up to scratch"
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