A SOMPTING woman has set up a campaign to get more staff working during the evenings on the wards of Worthing Hospital.
Kay Atkinson is aiming to collect 100 signatures on her petition, which she hopes to pass to a local MP.
The 58-year-old claims that there are certain hospital wards where four members of staff are responsible for 37 patients after 8pm.
Mrs Atkinson said that during her stay on Clapham ward in January, the low number of staff was ‘unacceptable’, adding: “It is a busy time with patients needing moving to commodes, bathrooms, into beds and medication to be handed out.
“It causes staff stress, as they are over stretched and it leads to mistakes happening.
“The staff could be helped by apprentices that need work experience, it just needs someone to organise it.
“I was on a ward where an 84-year-old was left on a commode for half an hour but no one came to answer her call at 9pm to be helped into bed.
“She sobbed her heart out. I was the only one on the ward capable of walking to get help. We were all distressed.”
Mrs Atkinson said she had been assured that there was someone helping the lady. “But I went back and there was no one with her.
“Eventually one member of staff came, but said it needed two people to operate the hoist, by this time an hour had elapsed, they had two people but the hoist had gone walkabout.
“Our dignity and quality of life is the most important thing to us as we grow older, it’s worth its weight in gold.”
Mrs Atkinson hopes the petition will result in a minimum staff ratio of three per ten patients but says four to ten would be better.
Cathy Stone, director of nursing and patient safety at Western Sussex Hospitals Trust, said: “We have significantly increased the number of qualified nurses across Worthing and St Richard’s hospitals in recent years and our nurse to patient ratios are higher than the national average.
“Our matrons and ward sisters review staffing levels on their wards at least three times each day and are empowered to increase the number of nurses on duty to ensure we give patients the care that they need at any time of the day or night.
“We have also committed to publishing this information on a daily basis, in order that patients and their families can see our staffing levels for themselves.”
Eighty-one people have signed the petition so far.
Caroline B said: “My elderly mother suffered with dementia and spent the last two weeks of her life in Worthing Hospital. When I visited her (evenings mainly) I rarely saw any staff at all on her ward, and no one helped her to eat her food, which was usually delivered, left to get cold and then thrown away.”
To sign the petition go to you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/staff-our-nhs-wards-overnight-aim-for-3-10-ratio-as-minimum