Body lies in busy A&E due to staff cuts

The Oban Times - - Front Page - LOUISE GLEN lglen@oban­

THE BODY of a pa­tient lay on a trol­ley in the ac­ci­dent and emer­gency depart­ment of Oban’s Lorn and Is­lands Hospi­tal for 11 hours as there was no night porter to take it to the mor­tu­ary.

Staff are now de­mand­ing ar­range­ments are put in place by hospi­tal man­age­ment to have some­one on call in the evening and dur­ing the night so a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion does not arise again. It is un­der­stood the body was left in a room in A&E, caus­ing dis­tress to staff who were on duty, un­til the porter col­lected it in the morn­ing.

In a state­ment on Tues­day, the Health and So­cial Care Part­ner­ship (HSCP) - for­merly the health board - said: ‘Due to pa­tient con­fi­den­tial­ity we would not be able to com­ment on the spe­cific case men­tioned, how­ever, there can be a range of rea­sons why a body is not moved im­me­di­ately to the mor­tu­ary.

‘This could in­clude the need for spe­cific ar­range­ments hav­ing to be put in place to move the body, in­struc­tions from the po­lice, the fam­ily want­ing time to grieve or the staff on duty be­ing ex­tremely busy deal­ing with at­ten­dances at A&E.

‘In all cir­cum­stances, our staff would treat the body with pri­vacy, dig­nity and re­spect.

‘In re­la­tion to the ques­tion about the hospi­tal’s por­ter­ing ser­vice, this was re­viewed last year in con­sul­ta­tion with the staff con­cerned and this led to changes in the rota to en­sure porters are on duty when there is a de­mand for their ser­vice.

‘We will be con­tin­u­ing to mon­i­tor this re­view to en­sure we have the ap­pro­pri­ate staff in place as and when re­quired.’

In a ques­tion to Po­lice Scot­land, an of­fi­cer said he did not be­lieve the po­lice had asked for any body to be kept in A&E.

A mem­ber of hospi­tal staff, who did not want to be named, said: ‘ We have not been con­sulted. There are not enough staff to deal with the higher in­flux of pa­tients at night, at the week­end and dur­ing the sum­mer.

‘It is fair to say that no- one would want any of their rel­a­tives left ly­ing un­der a blan­ket in a room that staff have to ac­cess to get med­i­cal sup­plies. It is not the way we as staff want to treat pa­tients. It is not the re­spect­ful way we were all trained to treat the bod­ies of peo­ple’s loved ones.

‘Night porters need to be rein­tro­duced as soon as pos­si­ble. It is a cut too far. It does not work.’

Michael Rus­sell MSP for Ar­gyll and Bute said: ‘This is very trou­bling and dis­tress­ing, par­tic­u­larly for the rel­a­tives of the per­son in­volved. It should not have hap­pened.

‘I am keen Oban Hospi­tal con­tin­ues as a re­spon­sive lo­cal fa­cil­ity do­ing all the things a com­mu­nity hospi­tal does best, but, of course, en­sur­ing safe on­ward trans­mis­sion of pa­tients who need a level of care or treat­ment that can­not be pro­vided by a small fa­cil­ity.

‘I sus­pect ev­ery­one could agree on that but there is no faith presently in HSCP de­liv­er­ing it and if it can­not even pro­vide enough staff to un­der­take tasks that are de­manded by com­mon de­cency then the cur­rent man­age­ment of HSCP are not do­ing their jobs.

‘I think there needs to be a long hard look at the HSCP and its track record to date. Many peo­ple wished it well when it was es­tab­lished, but as prob­lems mul­ti­ply, lo­cal peo­ple are los­ing faith in its abil­ity to de­liver the ser­vices they need and must have. Some­thing has to change.’

At Oban Com­mu­nity Coun­cil, con­cerns con­tin­ued to be raised about com­mu­ni­ca­tion from hospi­tal and lo­cal­ity man­age­ment. Com­mu­nity coun­cil­lor Dun­can Martin said: ‘No point in blam­ing the lo­cal­ity, these are cuts that are be­ing made through­out the coun­try and es­sen­tially from the govern­ment.’

Chairwoman Marri Mal­loy said: ‘It seems to me that with all this cen­tral­i­sa­tion the peo­ple of Oban don’t mat­ter. We have to change that. Some­thing has to give.’

Coun­cil­lor Jim Lynch said: ‘ We have to make a list of what we want and need in the hospi­tal and then tell the hospi­tal and the govern­ment what we are look­ing for.’

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