Edinburgh hospital dementia patients left without duvet covers

Royal Edinburgh Hospital, Morningside. Picture: Julie Bull

Royal Edinburgh Hospital, Morningside. Picture: Julie Bull

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THE Royal Edinburgh Hospital has been criticised after an inspection found mental health patients had not been given covers for their duvets.

The situation was described as unhygienic and a failure to treat patients with dignity.

Anyone staying in even a low-cost hotel, if there was no duvet cover you’d not be long in going down to reception and saying ‘What’s happening here?’.

Mike Diamond

A three-strong team from the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland made an announced visit to the Jordan and Pentland wards at the hospital in Morningside. Both look after men over 65 who have been diagnosed with dementia.

The visitors’ report, just published, said: “On Pentland ward we noted that duvet covers were not present on most beds. We were told that laundry services are no longer on site and this had a direct impact on the amount of laundry that was delivered to the ward.

“This is a poor reflection on the physical environment and is also unhygienic. This does not reflect well in relation to the dignity of these patients.”

The report said that on Jordan ward, most bedrooms and bed spaces “lacked personalisation” despite some of the men having lived there for several years.

The visitors recommended: “Managers should review the personalisation of patient bed areas and give consideration to further support individuals to have more personalised bed space. Appropriate bedding should be available for the patients in Pentland ward.”

Mike Diamond, executive director of social work with the commission, said: “Our emphasis is about treating people with dignity and respect.

“When you go to someone’s room and it’s not very well personalised and they don’t even have a cover on their duvet, that kind of hits you in the face.

“It’s an issue of basic care and it’s unhygienic. Anyone staying in even a low-cost hotel, if there was no duvet cover you’d not be long in going down to reception and saying ‘What’s happening here?’.”

Edinburgh Western Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said the situation was “absolutely unacceptable”.

He said: “This is further evidence that treatment of mental health on the NHS remains a Cinderella service.

“We should be dealing with mental health at the same level as physical care needs.

“To find that some of the most vulnerable patients are facing conditions of borderline neglect over basic requirements is very troubling. A cross-party consensus is emerging that we need to do far more to invest in mental health. The first priority must be to meet the basic needs of patients.”

Tracey McKigen, associate director of operations at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, said they were acting on the report’s recommendations. She said laundry services were centralised at St John’s Hospital last year.

“Some beds had been stripped and were awaiting replacement duvet covers to be returned on the transporter, which had been delayed,” she said. “However as part of new guidance, duvets are gradually being phased out to be replaced with sheets and blankets, which will in turn also ensure speedier turn around facilities.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com