"Is toast in hospital really a fire risk?"

About: St Peter's Hospital / Gastroenterology

(as the patient),

I spent 5 days in St Peter's Hospital in 2007 during which I spent a day and a night in 4 different wards. It seems bed shortages in other wards were causing problems.

I fel the daytime nursing staff were reasonable, although those I saw spent an awful lot of time hanging around the main desk talking amongst themselves. The little I saw of the night staff left me looking forward to the arrival of the day staff in the mornings.

The food was very basic, to be endured rather than enjoyed. Breakfast consisted of cornflakes or popsy-somethings, a few slices of plain bread, margarine and jam. I asked the chief nurse why we could not at least have toast. "Health and safety. Toast is a fire risk" came the answer. I wondered if this decision might be the result of dysfunctional management at the top level which knows and cares little about the importance of good food in patient care and recuperation, but I could be wrong.

Lunch was the main meal of the day, and not good, just one example being that the fish was reconstituted and only lukewarm. I managed to stagger down to the café once a day to buy myself something decent to eat. To cap it all, the whole place felt like a morgue at the weekends (not literally of course). It seems as if almost all of the doctors and about half of the nurses disappear for the 2 days.

One happy outcome of this is that patients get a better sleep at night because there are fewer nurses talking loudly (as they do) throughout the night or shouting at a patient (as they do) just because he or she is elderly. I often wonder why nurses stand in the middle of the ward to talk loudly to a patient when they could so easily stand by the patient's head and talk in a normal voice.

By the way, the shop and café close for the weekend! The one time when people are most likely to be coming to see their loved ones, many coming long distances, and who would be likely to appreciate a cup of tea, and they can't have one.

A good friend of mine spent 4 or 5 days here in March 09 and had an equally awful experience. Moved 3 times, food very poor quality, treated like an idiot simply because she is old. She's 82 and fitter than some of the staff on the night shift.

I spent a couple of hours in A&E in 2008, and the service was excellent. Proper nurses, and the doctor who fixed me up was first class.

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