Norfolk and Norwich patient upset over spurned gift for nurse’s baby

A disappointed north Norfolk patient is upset that a pregnant nurse was banned by a Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital manager from accepting a well-meant gift for her unborn baby.

Great grandfather Tom Coleman tried to give the nurse a sealed envelope containing cash for the baby's moneybox but says her boss intervened and told him the gift could only go into ward funds.

A hospital spokesman said their code of conduct prohibited staff from accepting gifts worth over �50, or cash in most instances.

However Mr Coleman, 74, from West Runton, insists the gift was not for a member of staff, but for her unborn child.

Mr Coleman was a patient in the hospital's Kimberley ward earlier this month when he saw the nurse showing an intrauterine scan photograph of her baby to someone nearby.

'I said: 'Oh, can I see - I love babies' and she brought it over to show me. She was very happy and excited about it,' said Mr Coleman. He and his wife Barbara have seven children between them, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

He later tried to give the nurse a sealed envelope, addressed: 'Not to be opened till baby is born, for her moneybox'.

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The nurse had thanked him but said she needed to refer it to her boss, said Mr Coleman. A manager had later appeared on the ward holding the envelope and told him the nurse could not accept it, but it could be put towards ward funds.

'If they had wanted a donation for ward funds, I would have given one but that's not what this was for,' said Mr Coleman. 'It said quite clearly that it was for that unborn baby - not the hospital or the nurse. I was upset that they wanted to take it away from the baby.'

Andrew Stronach, head of communications with the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: 'The only person who could have accepted the envelope was a member of staff, the nurse herself. The unborn baby can't accept it.

'The danger is that it could be interpreted wrongly by somebody who might think that the patient was trying to seek preferential treatment at some point.

'We would normally say 'no' to cash, per se, A box of chocolates, or fruit, is OK.'

As well as the hospital's own rules, Mr Stronach said the Nursing and Midwifery Council staff code of conduct stated: 'You must refuse any gifts, favours or hospitality that might be interpreted as an attempt to gain preferential treatment'.

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