Amazed at lack of hospital staff

I READ with interest the article on poor care of the elderly at Hinchingbrooke Hospital (April 15). It appears things do not change. Until 2001, I was a prison officer at HM Prison Littlehey and part of my duties was guarding prisoners who were inpatients

I READ with interest the article on poor care of the elderly at Hinchingbrooke Hospital (April 15). It appears things do not change.

Until 2001, I was a prison officer at HM Prison Littlehey and part of my duties was guarding prisoners who were inpatients at Hinchingbrooke. During 1999, I spent a couple of weeks watching a prisoner on the geriatric ward.

I was on duty from 6pm to 6am, and was amazed at the lack of staff. Most nights it was only a staff nurse plus one other and they had to look after about six bays with six to eight patients in each bay.

As was stated in your article, the alarms were often activated by patients and were ignored for at least 30 minutes.


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Each night I could hear patients calling out for nurses who, when they came, if they did, treated the elderly patients like children and chastised them for wetting the bed.

I think that the statement by the hospital about there being no shortage of staff was probably correct. However, one has to be aware that the staffing levels are most likely set by non-medical bureaucrats who have never worked on a ward and are more interested in balancing the books than providing proper nursing cover.

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DOUGLAS LACKEY

Santa Eugenia

Mallorca

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