Concerns over privacy at relocated Whalton Unit

Whalton Unit campaigners have raised what they believe are problem issues after receiving feedback from people who have visited loved ones in its new location.

Thursday, 7th February 2019, 14:07 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 17:20 pm
The Whalton Unit has been temporarily moved from a facility in Morpeth to Ward 8 at Ashingtons Wansbeck General Hospital.

The 30 beds at the inpatient ward, which delivers specialist rehabilitation for frail older patients, moved from a facility in Morpeth to Ward 8 at Ashington’s Wansbeck General Hospital in December, with Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust saying the decision was taken to ensure that staffing is as resilient as possible for winter.

A review of the long-term location of the ward is set to be completed by March.

The campaign calling for a consultation about the temporary decision and any potential further arrangements includes online and paper petitions.

Referring to the feedback, campaign representatives Jan Clarke, Chris Hall and Barbara Ross said: “There appears to be very little space in Ward 8 for it to work as a rehab unit.

“As the previous Whalton Unit was self-contained with private rooms, there was plenty of space to leave the equipment – such as wheelchairs – where patients would need them.

“However, in a ward with five other people who may also need equipment, there’s very little space and the ward feels crowded.

“We are also concerned about how the three individual rooms on Ward 8 will be used. Our concern is that they will simply be used to isolate patients who have infections and we are worried about how this will affect patients who are on the ward for end-of-life care and will therefore need privacy.

“This was never a problem at the previous Whalton Unit because all rooms were individual.

“Our opinion is that the facilities on Ward 8 are not entirely suitable for either rehabilitation or palliative care and we will be discussing our concerns with Northumberland Healthwatch.”

The online petition has more than 1,100 signatures and at the last count, the paper petition had more than 200 signatures.

The trio added: “We would like to thank The Office pub, the Salvation Army shop and Great British Interiors for hosting our petition, which can still also be signed at The Muscle Clinic.

“As reported in our last update, we are disappointed in the response to our emails from our representatives on Morpeth Town Council.

“At the time of writing, there have still been no further replies to our emails other than the five town councillors who have already responded.

“We cannot explain this, as we are not asking for anything that divides on party political lines. Our objective remains the same – to ask for transparency and consultation with the public.”

Helen Ray, chief operating officer at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Like all our wards at Wansbeck General Hospital, Ward 8 is a modern, fully-functional clinical area that is well-equipped to deliver the highest standards of care whist maintaining our patients’ privacy and dignity.

“Our side rooms are used for a variety of clinical reasons and are vital to help us reduce the spread of infections and protect our patients.

“We have a specialist palliative care unit at Wansbeck hospital, which provides end-of-life care for those patients who require this in a purpose-designed, dedicated area.

“We pride ourselves in giving our patients and their relatives the best experience possible and feedback about the care we provide is extremely valuable to us.

“We would urge anyone with any specific issues about the care they have received to raise these with the team.”

The campaign update, from earlier this week, said no date had been given for the meeting ‘we were promised’ with Sir James Mackey, chief executive of Northumbria Healthcare.

But a spokeswoman for the health trust told the Herald today: “A date for our chief executive Sir James Mackey to meet the campaigners has been set and we apologise for the delay.”