A TERMINALLY-ill grandmother with cancer has slammed Southport and Ormskirk’s hospital trust after patients underwent chemotherapy in a nurse staffroom.
Sheila Seymour, 69, was among the patients told they would have to have treatment in offices and side rooms as staff struggled to cope with a bed shortage last Tuesday (March 12).
It is the second time a bed crisis has hit Southport hospital in three months, after it re-opened its specialist cancer unit following a £1.3m renovation partly funded by the Marina Dalglish Appeal.
Due to an “unexpected” surge in sick patients, the hospital said it made the decision to use the Medical Day Unit (MDU) for six A&E patients who required immediate attention. The trust said all MDU patients received treatment as planned – apart from one who needed a bed and was rescheduled for last Thursday.
But Sheila, from Rainford, said: “ Because I am trying to recover from pneumonia I feel really frightened at being put in an environment where people may be suffering from all sorts of infectious illnesses. “The unit is new, paid for by bequests of patients and immaculately run. I have always felt safe there. But now I feel frightened and at risk.”
Sheila also said she had had a chest clinic appointment cancelled at Ormskirk Hospital on January 9, which she wasn’t able to reschedule until last week. The hospital said that clinic had coincided with unprecedented demand for beds which it had had to transfer staff to Southport and cancel the clinic.
But Sheila said: “It was important for me to have an appointment as I was told not to stop my steroid inhaler until I’d seen a doctor. I had to ask my consultant at the day unit in Southport if he would give me a new inhaler because mine had run out. It seems quite clear beds are an issue at the trust.”
Marina Dalglish, wife of former Liverpool FC manager Kenny who set up the Marina Dalglish Appeal after overcoming breast cancer, criticised the hospital.
She said: “Despite our protests the last time this happened, our objections are clearly being ignored. The donors to our charities, who personally contributed substantial monies for a particular purpose that is vital to them, did not do so in order to finance an overspill A&E department. It cannot be right that cancer patients directly affected by the withdrawal of their promised services are being treated in side offices while being denied access to the facilities that we have financed.”
Liz Yates, director of nursing and quality, apologised to those affected and blamed it on an increasing number of older, sicker and frailer A&E patients.
She said: “Typically, the Trust has 30 beds in reserve to cope with unexpected spikes in demand. By early Tuesday these were all in use and we made the decision to use the MDU for six poorly patients requiring immediate attention. We are very grateful to the charities and individuals who made [the day unit] project possible.
“It is with utmost reluctance we use it for other patients. “The six inpatients were cared for in a separate area and had all left the unit by lunchtime after which it was thoroughly cleaned.”