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State of Somerset hospitals' buildings
Royal United Hospital in Bath
Plans are due to be submitted to upgrade Bath's wards

A BBC investigation has found some buildings and facilities in UK hospitals are not up to scratch.

Problems such as wards being too small - meaning patients have little privacy - and services being located too far apart were mentioned in the report.

In Somerset, the existing Minehead community hospital and the Royal United Hospital (RUH) in Bath were named.

Taunton's Musgrove Park Hospital and Shepton Mallet Community Hospital were also cited.

The information was collated using information from the Department of Health.

The department keeps a record of all clinical areas and facilities such as toilets, lifts and office space which do not meet national standards on space, layout and design.

The report does not suggest that patient care or safety are being compromised; some of the space in question is actually offices, which would not impact on patients.

The report found:

  • Half the buildings and facilities at the existing Minehead Community Hospital were said to be unsuitable.
  • A third of the buildings at the RUH were not a good state.
  • Some parts of buildings managed by Somerset's mental health trust were also singled out for not being good enough.
  • There are no buildings or facilities at Yeovil District and Weston General Hospitals in a poor state.

A reason for hospitals' poor scoring on the report is that many of them were built in the 1930s and 40s and have Nightingale wards, which are long with beds down the side.

Musgrove Park Hospital
Musgrove Park Hospital is having a new clinical ward built

Modern hospitals have smaller bays with between five and six beds which make it easier for nurses to provide better care.

Although cited in the investigation, Somerset's hospitals were not high on the list.

Bristol's Royal Infirmary has inpatient wards in one building dating back to 1737, which UBHT said makes it "more difficult and less efficient to deliver" services to patients.

Hospitals in the county are also undergoing building work to update their facilities.

Musgrove Park Hospital, which was built in the 1940s, has a clinical ward currently being built while Minehead will have a new hospital on Seaward Way open in the New Year.

Howard Jones, the director of estates for RUH Bath NHS Trust, said there were plans to upgrade the north and south sections of the hospital.

"[The report] recognises that we're not where we want to be.

"Yes, we are embarrassed that we still have Nightingale wards, as are many hospitals up and down the country, but we have plans to do something about it."




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20 Jun 09 |  Bristol

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