Staff illness furore

Karen Partington
Karen Partington
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Hospital workers at Royal Preston Hospital’s intensive care unit are claiming a ban on drinks in clinical areas is leading to staff sickness.

The critical care unit at the hospital has 24 beds and the unit employs 172 members of staff who look after intensive care and high dependancy patients, many of who need one-to-one care.

Some workers claim the drinks policy on the unit is leading to staff going off sick, many with urinary tract infections.

One worker, who did not wish to be named, said: “Staff are banned from having a drink and even bringing in a water bottle on to the unit.

“Staff can drink in break time, but some staff who work a long day from 7am to 9.45pm are only having two drinks per day.

“When looking after an intensive care patient, the nurse is not able to leave that patient as it is one-on-one care. It is almost impossible to even leave the bedside to go to the toilet sometimes.”

Alan Burton, assistant branch secretary at UNISON, said: “To say that hard working staff can’t have a drink within easy reach, especially in such a high pressured work area is obviously having an impact on being able to deliver care.

“Hydration is essential to staff being able to concentrate.

“We hope common sense prevails and that staff are allowed to have drinks within easy reach as and when needed and not just at allotted break times.”

Karen Partington, (pictured) chief executive at the trust, said: “Staff are not permitted to drink by patients’ bedsides because an audit identified that this practice presents a risk to the very vulnerable patients and to the electrical medical equipment in the critical care unit.

“However, in addition to allocated breaks, staff can drink at any time when on duty and to facilitate this we provide a rest room for their use on the unit.”