Hospital To Place Patients In Hotel

A Welsh hospital has resorted to renting hotel rooms for patients to avoid overcrowding and infections on wards. The University Hospital of Wales is piloting a trial of using twin-bed rooms in a nearby three-star Cardiff hotel for patients recovering from a bone marrow transplant.

But if the three-month trial is successful other departments in Wales’ largest hospital could adopt similar practices.

So far three patients who have undergone a transplant of their own bone marrow have spent two to three weeks at the Park Inn Hotel – formerly the Moat House Hotel. Another four to six patients are expected to spend time in the two rooms Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust has rented from the hotel in the new year.

Although hospitals in London and Birmingham have transferred haematological patients to hotel rooms, it is believed that this is the first time it has happened in Wales.

Noreen Lewis, the Macmillan lead nurse for haematology at Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust, said, “This allows us to address the capacity issue in hospital and, so, do more transplants.

“The environment of a hotel room is more conducive to recuperation than a busy ward.

“Patients who have had a bone marrow transplant are more prone to infection because their immune system has been compromised.

“But the research from London and Birmingham suggests they wouldn’t be any more prone to infection in a hotel room that we have risk assessed and ensure is clean, than they would be in a hospital, where it is widely known that there is a risk of healthcare acquired infections.”

Under the new arrangement, patients who have had a transfusion of their own bone marrow stem cells following treatment for a haematological disease, such as lymphoma – a cancer – are eligible to be transferred to the Park Inn Hotel.

Patients are accompanied by a carer during their stay and are visited every morning by a clinical nurse specialist. Every other day they come back to the haematology unit as a day case patient. But the patient is essentially room-bound during the period of their recuperation.

The hospital also liaises with the hotel’s chef, to ensure the patient’s dietary needs are met.

Mrs Lewis said, “A hotel room is a more controlled environment and a place that we have assessed – the patients stay in that room, whereas if they were at home, they would be going into the garden.

“And the hospital is only half a mile away.”

Health Minister Dr Brian Gibbons says, in a report to today’s Assembly health and social services committee, “Autologous patients – who use their own cells and whose transplants are more straightforward – stay in a hotel for either post-transplant recovery or for the majority of the transplant episode. Specialised diets are prepared for the patients, the two rooms have dedicated cleaners, the clinical nurse specialist visits every day or the patient visits the hospital.

“There are clear protocols for the hotel/patient of what to do in an emergency.”

It is unclear how much it is costing Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust to rent the two rooms – twin and double rooms are advertised on the internet at £99 per week- night – but Mrs Lewis said she believed it was the same or cheaper than keeping patients in hospital.

Roger Goldsworthy, manager of the Park Inn Hotel, said, “I believe it is working very well and that the people are being well looked after.

“We are doing everything we can to help them in that process.”

Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust’s board has previously discussed creating a patient hotel in a bid to free up hospital beds, as part of a package of savings worth £20.5m.

The trust has recently struggled with extreme bed shortages, caused by an almost unprecedented increase in the number of delayed transfers of care – earlier this month it had the equivalent of six whole wards blocked.

It has been forced to open a new unfunded ward in a bid to create extra capacity, at a cost of £2m, which will have to be found from other over-stretched budgets.

But despite the trust’s capacity problems, there is no indication that it is considering moving other patients into nearby hotels at the moment.

But the bone marrow pilot could set a precedent for other departments to follow in the future.

Cardiff Community Health Council, which has the power to inspect places where NHS care is provided – such as nursing homes – is now checking its regulations to see whether that duty would extend to the Park Inn Hotel.

But Martyn Jenkins, the patients’ watchdog’s chief officer, said, “From a patient choice, quality and safety point of view, providing the risks have been assessed, this seems to be an interesting option and would certainly help get patients out of hospital beds.

“It is also probably cheaper to do this rather than to keep patients in hospital and away from hospital acquired infections.

“It is also a more comfortable setting for patients to be in.”