WHETHER it’s ice-cold temperatures or sweltering heat, struggling to deal with extreme weather is a very British problem.
Aside from plenty of grey days and showers, we are not prone to harsh conditions like other parts of the world.
Eighty-degree heat at the end of July is hardly a freak calling of Mother Nature, though. And that is why scrabbling around for fans to cool down patients at Queen Alexandra Hospital is simply unacceptable.
Reading today’s story on page five, you would be forgiven for thinking it was a sorry account from a Third World country.
Staff at QA being asked to bring their office fans to wards, relatives of patients launching appeals to bring some respite.
As ever, the problem stems from hard cash, or a lack of it in the NHS.
At a time when plenty of other services and departments are staking a claim for more funding, forking out on air-conditioned hospital rooms in a country where sunny days and warm nights are few and far between should not be top of the priority list.
It’s also worth remembering that newer wards at QA do have air-conditioning units.
But those having to sit in stifling heat – many of whom are elderly – deserve much better, especially when their wellbeing is of paramount importance.
As Steve Taylor, patient-support group Healthwatch Hampshire manager, says today: ‘Being unwell is bad enough. Although it’s not a hotel, the hospital must keep patients as comfortable as possible.’
QA staff have had to take the heat, too, with one nurse saying they felt ‘sick and exhausted’ at working in conditions reaching 28C.
Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs QA, insists it has a ‘cooling-down’ plan, especially for sick and elderly people.
But if that means a desperate search for desk fans, we say it is time for an urgent rethink.
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