UK heatwave: Patients and relatives 'passing out' because hospitals are too hot
Posted on 25/07/2018 by
Some wards reach more than 30C, nurses warn
Patients and relatives are passing out and vomiting because hospitals are getting so hot during the UK heatwave, nurses have warned.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said some wards have reached more than 30C, leading to patients becoming dehydrated.
The Society of Acute Medicine also raised concerns about patients and staff in overheated hospitals.
The RCN said some nurses are not allowed to take water bottles on to wards which means they are unable to stay properly hydrated during shifts.
Anna Crossley, professional lead for acute, emergency and critical care at the RCN, said: "Nursing staff should not be expected to work 12 hours shifts in stifling heat with no access to water. Not only is this extremely uncomfortable, it is dangerous, both for them and the patients they care for.
"Dehydration in overheated hospitals is a health risk and can lead to serious conditions - including urinary tract infections and acute kidney injury.
"By law, patients, relatives and staff must have easy access to water.
"Dehydration also affects cognition, which could lead to mistakes. Hospital management should allow water bottles on shift so staff can stay hydrated and make sure they have breaks. This is an issue of patient safety."
Dr Nick Scriven, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said he had witnessed "winter levels of activity" due to patients being admitted with respiratory problems.
Older people, young children and those with long-term conditions, including heart and lung diseases, are particularly vulnerable to the effects of hot weather.
"Admission levels are high, and as a personal example, our unit had winter levels of activity yesterday with a lot of respiratory symptoms presumably due to air quality," Dr Scriven said.
He warned that hospitals can become overheated.
"Most of our hospitals are designed and built to keep patients warm throughout the year, but in high temperatures they can become overheated rooms with little ventilation," he added.
"This is bad for patients who, even if they do not enter hospital dehydrated, can become so, but also for staff having to work in sweltering conditions.
"This is physically and mentally draining – the usual solution you see in wards is a desk fan or a wall-mounted fan blowing the hot air around.”