Nurses’ Fears Over Trafford Elderly Ward

THE facilities provided on a Trafford elderly rehabilitation ward are sub-standard and could create infection risks – according to the nurses who work there.

A letter leaked by a ‘whistleblower’ has revealed that staff raised with their bosses a host of issues about conditions on ward 18 at Trafford General, including ‘totally inadequate washing facilities’ – with 24 male and female patients sharing one bathroom.

Their concerns were sent anonymously in January this year to health campaigner Pat Morris, who has since held meetings with health chiefs in a bid to get the issues addressed.

But, frustrated at what she claims is a lack of action, she has since written to Health Secretary Alan Johnson about the ward, but has not yet received a reply.

Health bosses, though, said that concerns raised by staff at an earlier meeting led to a review being made and they were satisfied that it provides a “safe and appropriate environment for its patients.”

The 24-bed mixed ward is used to rehabilitate elderly patients who were formerly cared for at Altrincham General, which closed in 2006 amid claims that its wards were not fit for modern healthcare requirements.

Health chiefs originally pledged to invest £20,000 to upgrade the ward at Trafford General, but these plans have now been shelved as the ward is to be closed at the end of the month and leased to Manchester Royal Infirmary, as part of a catalogue of measures to avert a forecast £7m budget deficit at Trafford NHS Healthcare Trust.

The letter sent to Mrs Morris reveals that the issues raised at a meeting with health bosses included: * Washing facilities that are totally inadequate for 24 rehabilitation patients. (There is just one shower and one working bathroom.) (There is another bathroom but it is being used as a storeroom.) * The lack of bathrooms make it difficult to carry out full assessments.

* The general kitchen is in a very poor state of repair, causing an infection and health and safety risk * Inadequate staff changing facilities – also claimed to be an infection risk.

* The sluice room – where dirty linen and the bed pan disposal machine are stored – is totally inadequate and is an infection risk * A request for more staff to provide an ‘optimum’ service.

* Lack of grab rails and wheelchairs.

Mrs Morris – who waged a long battle to try to save the wards at Altrincham General from closure – hit out at the conditions on the ward.

She claimed there are “long standing staff shortages and an environment ‘not fit for the twenty-first century’, in the now familiar NHS jargon that was used when closing the wards at Altrincham General.”

She said the elderly patients are ‘collateral damage’, who are suffering as the health trust tries to solve its cash crisis.

She added: “Trafford residents can rest assured the problems do not rest with the nursing staff, they are doing their best to deliver the best care possible but even they cannot win against pounds, shilling and pence.”

The health trust said in a statement that its chief executive, Steve Spoerry, attended a meeting with staff to discuss their concerns.

It continued: “As a consequence of the meeting Mr Spoerry asked Matron Nora Webster, a control of Infection sister and an estates officer to inspect the ward and advise if it was a suitable environment for the type of patients being cared for and if any remedial works were required.

“The inspection took place the next day on November 29 and Matron Webster wrote to the ward staff to confirm outcomes from the inspection.

“Each specific concern was reviewed in detail by Matron Webster and was then discussed with Mr Spoerry.

“We can state categorically that Ward 18 provides a safe and appropriate environment for its patients.

“The seriousness with which we treat concerns of this type is shown by the fact that the chief executive personally attended the ward meeting and by the fact that the professional lead nurses (the matron and control of infection sister) were asked to lead the subsequent review.”