"Concerns over hygiene and staffing levels"

About: Belfast City Hospital

(as the patient),

I had major surgery in this hospital recently which necessitated a 5 day stay. The last time I was in hospital for that length of time was over 15 years ago and I could very quickly see changes in hygiene and staffing numbers.

Yes, there were antibacterial hand wash dispensers everywhere, but few people used them. The Day Room used by patients wasn't vacuumed during the 5 days I was there, nor was it cleaned or bins cleaned properly.

The toilet area had two plastic chairs for patients’ use while sitting at the sinks, one of which had faecal smudges on it for two days! The shower room on one occasion had five discarded paper mats lying on the floor from early morning til the evening and after asking an Auxiliary staff member if it was her job to clear them away, she retorted 'not really, the nurses can do it too'!

A blood patch lay on the floor outside the shower room all day before being cleaned off, while visitors came and went. Another blood patch lay on the floor beside my bed despite the cleaner having cleaned the floor and when I called her back she tried to convince me that it was part of the floor pattern, despite her second attempt at cleaning eventually removing it.

I got out of the bed unaided and tried to carry a very full catheter bag to the toilets, as I couldn't get a nurse but when one saw me she just told me to go on and carry it to the toilets and someone would come and help. However, I couldn't make it and 5 minutes later an Auxiliary came and helped.

I waited over 2 hours for pain relief on one occasion and had to continually remind them to come back to give me pain relief. Another time, I was being examined by the Consultant when, unannounced, a male dinner person just pulled my curtains back and walked in asking for the menu. Very embarrassing. The hot food, which was basic, mostly arrived cold!

A young student nurse (who seemed to be suffering from a chest infection) continually coughed, until I told her that I didn't want her spreading infection all over the vulnerable patients, me included, and suggested that she report in sick. She did this and the next day the staff were complaining about how understaffed they were.

It has to be said that the nursing staff were lovely but obviously due to their restricted numbers, had to give their full attention to the most serious patients, leaving little or no time for anyone else.

I think the cleaners need to 'up their game' and the powers to be need to review staff numbers and put more nurses on the ward before tragedy strikes!

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