HEALTH bosses have been forced by safety fears to impose a weight restriction for patients in an emergency ward at one of the North east’s main acute hospitals during a refurbishment scheme, it was revealed today.
• Patients weighing more than 15 stone have been banned from using beds
• Those over the weight limit are cared for in other parts of hospital
• Limit only applies in the one unit, not entire hospital
Patients weighing more than 15 stone have been banned from using beds at a temporary acute medical assessment unit at Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin after concerns about the safe evacuation of patients from the area were raised by Grampian Fire and Rescue Service.
Patients over the weight limit are being cared for in other parts of the hospital while the £3 million “reconfiguration” scheme continues.
An NHS Grampian spokeswoman explained: “The former ward 10 at Dr Gray’s is currently the temporary home of the Acute Medical Assessment Unit and the Rehab unit. When the reconfiguration work at the hospital is complete, these services will move out of this area and into refurbished accommodation.
“The reconfiguration project is aimed at moving - once and for all - all in-patient accommodation out of the oldest parts of the building, which are no longer in line with modern healthcare needs”
She continued: “However, to allow this project to go ahead, we need to use the former ward 10, on a temporary basis, as a turning space. There is no other suitable accommodation available at Dr Gray’s. We worked very closely with Grampian Fire and Rescue Service prior to this move, staging a worst case scenario simulated evacuation. This was observed throughout by GFRS. They asked us to introduce a 15 stone limit on patients and we agreed. This only applies in this area, not the whole hospital.”
The spokeswoman added: “Once the reconfiguration work is complete, the former ward 10 and associated areas will be used for a range of day case work, including chemotherapy. This work represents a £3million investment in Dr Gray’s by NHS Grampian and will result in a vastly improved environment for patients and staff. As has been acknowledged, the hospital is very busy at the moment. We are incredibly grateful for the hard work of our staff and the understanding of our patients.”
Under the evacuation procedure patients will have to be removed from the ward using special evacuation blankets. A member of staff claimed the evacuation route would take patients through the ward area, across a roof space and down an iron fire escape.
The NHS spokeswoman said: “The evacuation blankets referred to are specially designed, reinforced mats, used to evacuate people with impaired mobility. They are in use nationwide and not only in a hospital setting.”