Nurses get new guidance to halt 5.30am wakeups
Hospital bosses accused of letting nurses wake, wash and dress dementia patients at 5.30am have given new guidance to staff.
Last week we revealed how MSP Neil Findlay had been contacted by whistleblowers at Edinburgh’s Western General Hospital. They claimed patients in the hospital’s long-stay elderly care ward were left distressed and disorientated after being woken so early.
Hospital bosses denied the allegation. However, Professor Alex Mcmahon, NHS Lothian nurse director, yesterday issued a new statement, emphasising the patient care policy but also saying there had been discussions with staff to give them extra guidance and improved support.
He said: “We take patient care, safety and experience extremely seriously in NHS Lothian and we actively encourage our staff to raise any concerns.
“It is not our policy or practice to wake patients at 5.30am, and we have begun discussions with our teams to provide extra guidance and provide improved support, where required.”
Mr Findlay said he had been told notices listing the tasks the night staff must complete before they finished their shift – which included washing and dressing patients – had also been taken down.
Irene O’neill, of the Independent Federation of Nursing, said: “It may not be ‘official’ policy, but getting patients washed and dressed at these extremely early times is clearly what is happening on the wards.
“Perhaps it would be more helpful if Professor Mcmahon attends at that time to see for himself.”
She claimed nurses had told her the same problem occurred on elderly care wards at Monklands Hospital.
She said: “Our nurses were horrified to discover waking elderly patients was a regular thing, sometimes as early as 4am.
“It’s against every bit of the patients’ charter, and any nurse who follows such orders is not putting the needs and wellbeing of their patient first and foremost.”
But NHS Lanarkshire denied the claims. Karen Goudie, chief of nursing services at Monklands Hospital, said: “These are historical allegations which we totally refute.
“We had correspondence with the Independent Federation of Nursing in February 2018. An investigation was carried out at the time. However, there was no evidence to support the claims.”
Adam Stachura, of charity Age Concern, said: “It is vital nurses and others are encouraged to blow the whistle on any practices they have concerns about.”
Neil Findlay MSP