Body lies in busy A&E due to staff cuts
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.’