A £430million flagship hospital has been slammed after patients were issued with HANDBELLS to attract attention – including a frail 84-year-old who couldn’t pick one up.
The state-of-the-art unit opened in May but 23 clinical rooms – used when there is a lack of other beds – are still without a proper electronic patient alert system.
Patients have been issued with metal handbells to attract attention, including dementia patient Molly Goddard, 84, who was rushed to hospital after breaking her hip.
Her son Andy, 57, claims she was shoved into a side room and told to ring the bell if she needed help – but says his mother was too weak to pick it up.
He slammed the “antiquated” system as being “like something out of Downton Abbey”.
“We were given a bell as an emergency call service,” he said. “They said sorry, just ring the bell if you need any help because there is no call system in this room.
“This is from a hospital that cost £430million to build.
“In a state-of-the-art hospital that they use a little brass bell is incredible. It sounds like something out of Downton Abbey.
“It’s ridiculous really. The hospital is a beautiful building – you would think you are going into a shopping centre or a hotel, and they spent a quarter of a million on a clock.
“It seems so antiquated and dated for a super hospital like this.
“My mum couldn’t even pick up a glass of water, let alone a bell.”
State-of-the-art Southmead Hospital in Bristol opened last May and high tech alert systems were installed at 800 bedsides, but not in ‘clinical rooms’ used in busy periods.
Hospital bosses said doorbells were tested, but the 23 hand bells – costing a total of #91.77 – were deemed to be the most audible and handed out in October.
A spokesperson said they were a “short term” solution, and would be replaced with the proper alert system in a month.
But signmaker Andy said the situation should have been remedied since his mother was admitted in December.
She fell at home while cooking her dinner and after an hour and a half in a “freezing” corridor she was taken for an X-ray and given a cubicle in A&E.
But the next morning the pensioner was moved into a small procedure room – which he described as “more like a storage room” – where she was handed a bell.
She had surgery on her hip, and was taken to a proper ward, but passed away earlier this month.
“There were piles of medical boxes on the side and staff kept apologising and coming in to get things from the cupboards,” Andy said.
“That was quite some time ago. It needs something doing now.”
Bristol North West Charlotte Leslie also criticised the bells and added: “Whilst it’s good they are making alternative arrangements, it’s yet another example of glitches in the system.”
Sue Jones, director of nursing and quality and North Bristol NHS Trust said: “To help our winter capacity, improve patient flow through the hospital and reduce the amount of time patients are waiting in A&E, we use procedure rooms on a
short-term basis until a regular room becomes available.
“These 23 clinical rooms on the wards are entirely appropriate for safe and dignified patient care and are more suitable and comfortable for patients than waiting in A&E.
“In this environment we are able to deliver the best care to our patients.
“These rooms are not currently connected to the electronic call bell system which has been in place for the other 800 patient beds since the new hospital opened in May.
“In order to ensure that patients can call nurses 23 metal hand bells were purchased by the trust in late October as an interim measure.
“Prior to buying these bells other solutions were tested in the ward areas and the hand bell was found to be most appropriate as it could be heard throughout the ward.
“We anticipate that the electronic call bell system will be extended to these rooms in a month.
“I met with Mrs Goddard and her son back in December to discuss their concerns and offered my apologies.”