March 8 2014 Latest news:
by Paul Wright
Friday, February 28, 2014
A Premier Inn is being transformed into a makeshift ward as more patients from the Royal Free Hospital are put up in budget hotel accommodation to free up care beds.
Figures made available to the Ham&High reveal the use of hotels by the hospital in Pond Street, Hampstead, has almost quadrupled in less than three years.
The rise comes as new measures to free up space in wards see doctors from an expanding range of specialist care being told to assess whether patients need around-the-clock treatment.
If patients are assessed as being well enough not to have to stay in a hospital bed, they will be put up in the Premier Inn in Haverstock Hill.
The initiative has resulted in the number of patients the hospital books into the Premier Inn in Hampstead rising from 262 in 2010, to more than 1,900 in 2012/13.
The rise has meant hotel bills for the hospital rising from just over £40,000 to more than £500,000 over the same period.
Managers at the Premier Inn in Hampstead revealed that they had seen a “significant” increase in use by the hospital over the past couple of years.
They added that rooms used by patients were no different to those used by other guests and had no special access to emergency equipment should they require assistance.
A spokesman at the hospital said the programme was not diminishing patients’ access to around-the-clock care.
“Only patients who do not need overnight care will be offered a room in a hotel and our staff always carefully assess patients before making this decision,” the spokesman said.
“This ensures patient safety is never compromised.
“The rise in patient hotel stays is due to a project we undertook to look carefully at how and where patients were cared for to ensure they were receiving care in the most appropriate setting.
“We found that there were many patients who did not need to stay in hospital and so we implemented new guidelines to ensure only patients in need of 24/7 nursing care stay in wards overnight to free up hospital beds for those who need them.
“In addition, it means a more comfortable stay for patients who don’t need to be in hospital overnight.”
The Ham&High reported this month on the case of a father who was told it was “safer” to stay in the Premier Inn than a hospital bed while being treated for cancer at the Royal Free.
The family of Lee Grimstone said they were “shocked” to discover the father-of-two was allowed to stay in a budget hotel room, despite having “close to no immune system”.
He died some time later of multiple organ failure and infections, and the circumstances are being investigated.