DISABLED patients in the care of Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust face one of the least disability-friendly environments in the country, new data shows.

Charities are urging healthcare providers across England to make "vital" adjustments to promote independence and reduce the anxiety of hospital visits for patients living with dementia or a disability.

Patient-led evaluations – known as PLACE assessments – are carried out annually in a bid to drive improvement in the quality of patient environments at NHS hospitals and hospices across England.

They involve volunteers going into hospitals as part of teams to rate the non-clinical elements of care, such as catering services and waiting facilities.

Areas including cleanliness, patient privacy and the quality of food are reviewed, alongside the way sites support people with dementia and disabilities.

And the NHS Digital figures reveal that Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust scored 74.4 per cent for offering a disability-friendly environment, in comparison to the national average of 82.5 per cent.

Volunteers determining if a site is disability-friendly will look at whether there are handrails in corridors and at least one toilet large enough for a wheelchair and carer, among other criteria.

NHS data shows that more than a third of trusts are not meeting the national average for disability, while just under 30 per cent are falling below the national figure for dementia. The national average incorporates scores from private, independent and voluntary providers which also took part in PLACE assessments.

A spokesman for charity Disability Rights UK said: "This situation is unbelievable, particularly given the number of disabled people who will be visiting hospitals.

"We urge NHS Trusts to act to make their environments accessible to all as a priority."

PLACE assessors will also judge the quality of the environment for people with dementia at NHS sites, including whether floors are plain coloured and non-slippery, signs are clearly visible and the correct day, date and time is visible in patient areas, among several other criteria.

Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust scored 73.7 per cent for how it accommodates people with dementia. The national average was 80.7 per cent.

Emma Bould, programme partnerships manager at dementia charity Alzheimer’s Society, said: "We know that staying in hospital can often be a stressful experience, especially for a person with dementia who may be more easily disorientated or confused.

"By listening to patients and making dementia-friendly adaptions to a hospital setting, hospitals can be transformed into safe spaces that will give people a sense of independence and reduce anxiety.

"There are now 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, and with numbers predicted to double for the next generation, it’s vital that all hospital sites make reasonable adjustments and adopt dementia-friendly practices."

How did Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust score in its latest PLACE assessment?

Cleanliness - 98.3 per cent

Food - 94.1 per cent

Patients' privacy, dignity and wellbeing - 81.5 per cent

Condition, appearance and maintenance - 94.5 per cent

Dementia-friendly - 73.7 per cent

Disability-friendly - 74.4 per cent