Patient, 77, kept in bed in staff office as Norwich hospital runs out of space

Arlene Meekins, 77, was moved to the staff office at the Norfolk & Norwich hospital. Picture: Suppli

Arlene Meekins, 77, was moved to the staff office at the Norfolk & Norwich hospital. Picture: Supplied - Credit: Supplied

Imagine this was the view from your hospital bed.

Arlene Meekins.

Arlene Meekins. - Credit: Archant

Staff sit at a desk next to you fielding calls about other patients and come in and out to make tea and coffee.

The room is cluttered with filing cabinets, tables and chairs.

And there is no privacy.

This was where a Catton Grove pensioner was treated at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (N&N) when she was moved from a ward on Tuesday morning.

Arlene Meekins, 77, was moved to the staff office at the Norfolk & Norwich hospital. Picture: Suppli

Arlene Meekins, 77, was moved to the staff office at the Norfolk & Norwich hospital. Picture: Supplied - Credit: Supplied


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Arlene Meekins, 77, was put in the office, which the N&N said was also a 'home therapies clinic room', as the hospital needed every last inch of space to treat patients.

The situation was so bad that one ambulance crew waited for more than four hours in the early hours of Tuesday morning to drop a patient off.

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Seven other ambulances spent more than three hours queuing to hand over people at the hospital's emergency department as patients could not be discharged quick enough.

Mrs Meekins, who is in hospital with a chest infection, was moved from a ward to the staff office at the Jack Pryor Unit, which treats kidney dialysis patients, for around four hours yesterday morning.

Her daughter-in-law, Shelley Meekins, visited at 11.30am on the morning of the 77-year-old's birthday to find her on a bed in the staff area.

'I kicked up a stink when I arrived,' she said. 'She was in a bed next to a load of cupboards.

'The staff had to lean across her to make a cup of coffee and the guy in the office was making calls on the phone to patients.

'She cried as there was no dignity.'

Shelley Meekins spoke to two staff members who apologised for the way her mother-in-law was being kept.

'I said, 'I know this is not your fault but this is not good enough'.

'The nurse said she wouldn't want this for her mother.

'She said an overflow of ambulances arrived and she said they just had to find beds.'

Mrs Meekins was moved late yesterday morning to a ward.

'The powers that be need to be told it is not good enough,' Shelley Meekins added.

Mrs Meekins' son, Philip, from Mile Cross, added: 'It is ridiculous. I couldn't believe they'd put my mum in an office.'

Shelley Meekins said her mother-in-law was previously kept on a maternity ward at the hospital when she first went to the N&N with a chest infection around two weeks ago.

A hospital spokesperson apologised but said Mrs Meekins only spent a 'short time' in the 'home therapies clinic room and office'.

The spokesman said she was there from 8am to 11.30am, while staff prepared to transfer her back to a ward.

'Prior to this time, the patient was cared for in a ward environment,' the spokesman said. 'We have already apologised in person to the patient and her family.

'At the time, the trust was experiencing considerable bed pressure with many patients needing urgent admission to hospital.

'This room is a clinic room for the dialysis service and not routinely used for inpatients.'

•Do you have a story about our hospitals? Email newsdesk@archant.co.uk

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