Cash boost for hospitals

Community hospitals in Waveney and Yarmouth are to get hundreds of thousands of pounds spent on them after a damning report criticised lack of dignity for patients, cracked buildings and rotten woodwork.

Community hospitals in Waveney and Yarmouth are to get hundreds of thousands of pounds spent on them after a damning report criticised lack of dignity for patients, cracked buildings and rotten woodwork.

Southwold and Beccles hospitals in particular have been singled out for the lack of maintenance over several years. Yarmouth and Waveney primary care trust (PCT) is now spending £372,000 on improvements at its community hospitals and clinics - but it will only cover the most urgent improvements.

A team of PCT staff, including an infection control nurse and a patient forum representative, visited Beccles and Southwold hospitals and the Herbert Matthies block at Northgate hospital, in Yarmouth, through the national Patient Environment Action Team (Peat) scheme. They did not visit the Patrick Stead Hospital in Halesworth, which was closed at the time.

Southwold hospital was described as “shabby and uncared for” and “not really suitable for the purposes for which the PCT are using it”. Beccles and Northgate hospitals earned a “poor” rating for patient privacy and dignity, but Southwold was rated “unacceptable”. The report says that local youths have caused a nuisance on site, including by pulling themselves up to ward windows and frightening patients.

At Beccles hospital, the outpatients' waiting area needed complete refurbishment, there were cracks in the building, rotten wood and not enough car parking. The report says: “The lack of sufficient pedestrian access on to the site is worrying and it was felt that there is a genuine risk of someone being injured.”

In Northgate they found food and debris under patients' beds, stained curtains and dirty pull cords in the toilets and bathrooms, and “a lack of privacy and dignity in the wards that impacts on confidentiality and modesty, dignity and respect”. There was poor lighting, a lack of CCTV and “an impression of gentle neglect”.

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Mike Stonard, the PCT's chief executive, said £372,454 was being spent on the problems. “The aim is make a big improvement to the issues raised in the Peat report. I was personally very disappointed to read reports of apparent neglect and safety problems and have made sure that a very large sum of money is being spent on them this year to make some long overdue improvements.”

The money will go on a new footpath and car parking at Beccles, repointing brickwork at Southwold, a refurbished lift, repairs to the driveway and new disabled parking at Halesworth, amongst other things. But it will not cover many items in the report, such as better security and privacy at Southwold.

Last night members of the local community denied that the hospitals were as bad as the report suggests.

Southwold mayor Teresa Baggott said: “To say it is shabby and uncared for is ridiculous. It is lovely inside. It is a wonderful facility for Southwold.”

Barbara Davis, chairman of the Southwold Hospital League of Friends, said: “I don't agree with all of it. I know there is an issue with privacy and you can see patients on the wards, but the actual patients don't seem to mind.”

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