UNIT: Ward doesn’t compare

I write with reference to the transfer of the Whalton Unit from Morpeth to Wansbeck General Hospital.

Thursday, 6th June 2019, 9:03 am

My 83-year-old mother has been a patient in both facilities. She is currently in Ward 8 (now being called the Whalton Unit) after a fall in her home.

In my opinion, there is no comparison between the two, and I would be very disappointed if the Morpeth Unit were to be closed permanently.

The staff at both units have been excellent, but I believe the facilities in the Wansbeck do not come close to those in the old Whalton Unit.

My mother is in a bay with five other patients and there is no privacy at all.

There is only room to get one or two visitors near her bed and they have to sit so close to the patient in the next bed that private conversation is impossible.

There is nothing to do in the ward and I worry that my mother may be depressed.

The only view from her bed is a small bit of roof on the building opposite, whereas in the old Whalton Unit she had a floor to ceiling window with a view over the main entrance so she could watch the comings and goings. This at least gave my mother some stimulation, whereas at present there is none at all.

The patients just sit in their chairs or beds and do nothing.

In the old Whalton Unit we could bring in some possessions as the patients had separate rooms. This would not be possible in the Wansbeck ward as even things like newspapers go missing, which is not malicious. I believe it is due to other patients getting mixed up.

Not having their own things around them can add to the confusion of elderly patients, and the lack of privacy is distressing at times.

At home my mother watches TV a lot, but she struggles to watch TV in the Wansbeck as the system is complicated for her. It costs £19.90 for three days, which I have paid for twice, but found that she didn’t use it.

She is also worried about annoying or disturbing the other patients in the bay if they are trying to sleep.

In the old Whalton Unit, she was able to watch in peace. TV is particularly important when you are unable to do anything else, but even this is made difficult.

I have been told by friends that there is a free taxi for visitors to patients in the Wansbeck, but I was not told about this by staff.

I also understand that there is a survey of visitors and patients going on, but I have never been asked my opinions, even though I am one of the few people to have experience of both facilities and I have visited my mother every day for weeks.

It was not until my mother was being transferred from Ward 5 at the Wansbeck to the Whalton Unit that I realised that the unit had been moved.

I am concerned that others have not been consulted about the loss of the old Whalton Unit in Morpeth and will not find out about it until they, or their loved ones, need it.

Susan Rutherford