Shame ward closed

I AM alarmed to discover that the female-only Rowan Ward at Hinchingbrooke Hospital has closed as a cost-cutting measure. This is short-sighted. A woman, young or old, recently diagnosed with breast cancer and needing a double mastectomy and taken on to R

I AM alarmed to discover that the female-only Rowan Ward at Hinchingbrooke Hospital has closed as a cost-cutting measure. This is short-sighted.

A woman, young or old, recently diagnosed with breast cancer and needing a double mastectomy and taken on to Rowan Ward for life-saving surgery was among other women who understand her fears.

The staff were well trained and very experienced. The woman could recover from her major surgery with a large degree of her dignity still intact. The ward was peaceful, as visiting was limited. On other wards, visiting can be from 2-8pm.

The board of management denies the possibility of women and men having to share bays, but I was placed in a mixed bay at the hospital when I went in for an emergency hysterectomy in 2004 and no other beds were available.

I was kept awake by a senile man who was wandering into the bays all night looking for his wife.

Fortunately, before surgery I was moved on to Rowan Ward and found it to be superb, with strong support from both the staff and other patients.

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I also then had to have breast surgery and lymph node removal in 2005 for breast cancer and again found Rowan Ward to be the best place possible during this very difficult time.

I left feeling strong and positive to face the rest of the horrendous treatment to beat this dreadful disease.

In a mixed ward, a woman may be embarrassed by her state, wandering down the corridor to the toilet with two drains hanging out of each side of her chest.

She may already have had chemotherapy to shrink her tumours and have to face the men with her hair missing.

She feels embarrassed, ashamed, awkward, her femininity gone completely. What kind of position is this to put an ill woman into?

I think that, for some women, the prospect of a mixed ward will be the deciding factor on whether they agree to surgery.

Could the hospital management explain why, when facing such a huge shortfall in finances, they can afford to continue building and also replace uniforms throughout the hospital?

With the very good breast surgeon Mr John Benson gone, I feel that it is only a matter of time before all breast cancer services are relocated to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge. I fear not for myself, but for the patients yet to some.

Did the hospital not consider keeping Rowan Ward open and moving some of the other female patients into this ward, thereby keeping women's dignity and privacy intact?

TRUDY CAPPER, St Neots

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