MP Gummer slams ‘disgrace’ of patients stranded in Bluebird Lodge Community Hospital, Ipswich, because of faulty lift
Health bosses who failed to fix a Suffolk hospital’s only lift - leaving some patients stuck in their rooms for weeks - have been criticised for “not doing their job properly”.
Ipswich MP Ben Gummer said NHS Property Services, which is responsible for maintaining Bluebird Lodge Community Hospital in Ravenswood, was a “disgrace” for failing to resolve the problem within four months.
Mr Gummer’s comments follow concerns raised by the daughter of an 84-year-old woman who has been unable to leave the hospital for much of her stay since she was admitted in May,
Jane Scoggins said her mother, June Mann, “feels like a prisoner” trapped in her room all day, while her father, Reg Mann, who suffers with dementia had become “very upset” because he could not see her.
The hospital cares for up to 28 patients who are admitted mainly for rehabilitation. Around half spend more than 24 days in the hospital, with a very small number staying longer than 100 days.
With all patients said to rely on the lift to exit the building, it means some may have struggled to get outside all summer.
NHS Property Services said previously that a new part would be delivered on Thursday, however this failed to resolve the problem.
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Mrs Scoggins said there had been repeated attempts to fix it and none of them had worked.
“It’s been going on for so long and it should never have happened,” she said,
Ipswich Hospital, which runs healthcare services at Bluebird, but is not responsible for the building, has offered to fix the lift and provide an extra stair lift, which should be completed within the next “couple of weeks”.
“We appreciate that everyone is working very hard to address this issue but felt it was important we did all that we could to make sure patients, their relatives and friends are not inconvenienced one day longer than they need to by this situation,” a spokesman added.
“The work will be taken absolutely as soon as possible. But it’s a big job and so will take a couple of weeks.”
Mr Gummer praised the hospital but said NHS Property Services “have been hopeless” and “aren’t doing their job properly”.
“There’s been a persistent problem since April and they’ve not done enough to fix it,” he added.
Labour’s health spokesman at Suffolk County Council, Sarah Adams, said: “It’s another example of cuts hitting specialist services.
“Frankly, if I’m honest, the whole system if falling apart.”
NHS Property Services said it had been “working hard to resolve the situation” but uncovered an extra fault when repairing the lift.
After meeting local teams today, Dennis Markey, chief operating officer at NHS Property Services, said: “We apologise unreservedly for the repeated failings of this lift service and the distress it has caused.
“The hospital Trust has instructed its own contractors to repair the lift, and in addition is looking at a possible interim solution that could include a temporary stair lift.
“As landlord, we fully accept our responsibilities and support this course of action. We will bear the costs of ensuring this lift is fully fit for purpose while we continue to work with our NHS partners on providing a new and purpose-built external lift in the longer term.”
Healthwatch Suffolk’s chief executive Andy Yacoub said he had made enquiries about the problems at Bluebird and he was “very concerned” about the their impact on patient welfare.
“Continual repairs are simply not justified and a permanent solution must be found to protect people’s wellbeing,” he added.
People with concerns about health services can email firstname.lastname@example.org to contact Healthwatch.