Man with leg ulcers took his own water to Dereham Hospital

A grandfather with painful leg ulcers has blasted Dereham Community Hospital, saying he had to take along his own water to an outpatient clinic amid concerns about its own supply.

Keith Walter, 64, of Waples Way, Dereham, complained to Norfolk Community Health and Care (NCH&C) NHS Trust on October 9 saying he could not get his leg ulcers washed on Westfield Ward that day and on the previous Friday.

He told the Times this week that he resorted to taking nearly 10 litres of his own warmed-up water to the hospital on October 23 and on October 30.

Mr Walter, who was referred to the clinic three months ago, said: 'If it is washed and put in that water, it is a relief: it is a short-term relief but any relief is good. I wouldn't wish ulcers on my worst enemy. It is a disgrace for a hospital not to have a water supply.'

Last week, we reported that an alert was raised after water quality tests showed a bacterium might be present following the refurbishment of the Foxley Ward kitchen area at the hospital.

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Tests confirmed that pseudomonas, an increasingly antibiotic-resistant bacterium that can cause infections in seriously-ill patients, was present in Foxley Ward, which was closed on October 5 and this week remained so.

There were fears the bacterium had spread to the Westfield Ward, although further tests revealed this was not the

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case. Beetley outpatients ward has consistently shown negative results.

A statement from the NHS Trust said: 'As a result, NCH&C implemented immediate actions to protect patients, staff and visitors. This included using bottled water for drinking, alcohol hand sanitiser for hand cleansing, and installing filters to the water supply.

'The water supply to the leg ulcer clinic in Westfield outpatients was disrupted during October while necessary cleaning, flushing and further testing of the water system was carried out. During this time, it was deemed unsuitable for bathing.'

Mr Walter claimed the hospital did not have the facilities to boil the water.

He added: 'It is not rocket science, you can send an email to the other side of the world but they cannot boil water up.'

The retired lorry driver said an ulcer was like having boiling water constantly dripping onto his skin and the washing, which does not cure ulcers, is an important part of the treatment.

He used to attend the clinic twice a week but has recently been going every Tuesday, where the ulcers are washed in salty warm water, moisturised and then re-bandaged.

The NHS trust statement said that it was deemed unsuitable for patients with leg ulcers to bathe in cold, sterile water.

It added: 'Patients who chose to bring in their own warm water continued to benefit from leg washing. Patients were also able to access other clinics in south Norfolk, if they wished. Following the installation of a high-grade filter on the water supply, the leg ulcer clinic's water supply has been suitable for bathing again since October 31.'

A trust spokesperson said: 'Our expert Infection Prevention and Control team has ensured that at no stage have patients or staff been put at any risk and there have been no cases of human infection.

'Unfortunately, the leg ulcer clinic had to temporarily pause washing patients' legs, which is usually provided to the skin around a leg ulcer. However, this does not help to heal a leg ulcer and is not an essential part of care. All of the leg ulcer treatments, such as irrigation, moisturising, and replacing bandages, has consistently been provided by the expert team.

'The service is now operating as usual. We apologise for any disruption that this maintenance work has caused and appreciate the support shown by our patients and our staff.'

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