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Fears over privacy at women's health unit
THE women’s health unit at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital faces an uncertain future until the planned new Jigsaw building opens next year.
Patients receiving gynaecological and breast care treatments requiring them to stay overnight were moved into a converted section of the maternity ward earlier this year as the hospital adapted to seasonal emergency pressures.
However, hospital managers claim the demand for beds for women’s health patients is decreasing, with most now being dealt with as day cases, and they are currently reviewing where in-patients will receive treatment in future.
The move has sparked fears that female patients with sensitive conditions may be treated on the wards alongside male patients. A nurse at the hospital who spoke to the Echo, but wished to remain anonymous, said: “There are ten beds in the women’s health unit and they are full all the time, and we have been told it is going to close.
“But we have not been told what is going to happen with the patients.
“It would be horrendous if they were put on the surgical wards with the other patients, with their conditions they would be very upset to be treated alongside men.
“All the staff are very concerned for their welfare.”
A hospital spokesman said they would continue to provide beds for women’s health patients who required them, but the location was being determined.
“We’d like to reassure women’s health patients that they will stay in the converted maternity area where they are receiving the appropriate level of care, until the alternative options have been reviewed,” she added.
“The majority of these patients will not need to stay overnight, which is much better and nicer for them.
“Ensuring the privacy and dignity of all our patients is a key focus in everything that we do.”
Chief operating officer Helen Lingham said the Jigsaw building, which goes before council planners on March 28, would include a new women’s health unit funded with £1.5 million from the hospital’s Jigsaw Appeal.
She said: “This flagship unit will ensure better privacy and dignity for our patients and will support our rapidly expanding outpatient and day case treatments.”
The unit will centralise women’s health services, saving patients trips around the hospital, but will not include in-patient beds.