Comment: Staff work hard in difficult conditions

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IT is not surprising that NHS Lothian, like all public bodies, is looking at ways to save cash wherever it can.

The latest idea to emerge today is removing expensive water coolers from wards when, potentially, a mains water tap could do the job just as well. It has been done at hospitals elsewhere and saved a reasonable amount of money.

Patients you assume would continue to have access to water at their bedside and so what’s the problem?

The issue is, as the unions highlight today, that staff at the ERI and other hospitals across the Lothians are already working flat out in difficult conditions.

They say the coolers on the wards are not just convenient, but are essential for nurses who don’t have the time to run to the nearest kitchen facility.

This may not be too much of a problem during the winter, but if the issue with heat at the ERI is not tackled then it could become a real health and safety concern next summer.

No-one disputes that health chiefs have to make cuts and as there appears to be no healthcare reasons for this move, you have to assume this is the main motivation.

However, they should think very carefully before removing something which is likely to make the lives of their hard-pressed staff any more difficult than it is already.

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