PATIENTS and staff have carried on in ‘blistering’ heat, as temperatures exceed 30 degrees in parts of the Royal Hampshire County Hospital.

A consultant at the hospital, in Winchester, who asked to remain anonymous, said theatre rooms have been as hot as 31.9 degrees this week.

Surgeries have been cancelled with operating theatres ordinarily being run at 19 to 21 degrees, with even two degrees more being overly hot.

Some air con units are reported to have broken in the past and not been properly maintained.

The consultant said: “There’s absolutely no air flow. The wards are desperately uncomfortable and the air conditioning is failing in the theatres.

“Nurses have had to try to move patients out from the worse bays. It’s like being in the Mediterranean but in full uniform, not enough staff and without proper drink breaks.

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“It’s really dangerous. Staff health is at risk. If we are not caring for the carers, how can we expect them to look after others?

“Patients have had to wait even longer just to be told they can’t be operated on, while patients stuck on the ward have had to put up with blistering heat. A porter told me it has been unbearable on the wards.

“The air con units we do have, have not been fitted correctly and others seem to have completely disappeared. The maintenance team has been stripped right back, even little things take forever to get fixed.

“I don’t think the bosses have a clue, they’re never on the wards. They needed to address it before there was an issue. We’ve had weeks of cool wet weather so there was the opportunity to get everything set up.

“We’re depending on other groups to get us air con units. I’m not sure if it’s if we can’t afford to run them or set them up properly.

“It’s a Winchester issue as far as I know. The southern-facing bays of the wards, where most of the theatres have been worse affected. It’s unbearable when it’s hot. The simple fact has been that people have not been able to fulfill their working capacities.”

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Andy Hyett, chief operating officer for Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “A number of measures are in place across our hospitals in order to make things as comfortable as possible for our patients and staff during the current hot weather. This includes running mobile air conditioning units, as well as fans and other cooling aids in areas where it is safe to do so, including our chemotherapy treatment unit.

“We recognise that this hot weather will be challenging for many and we will continue to do everything we can to minimise the impact at our sites, while ensuring we continue to deliver safe patient care for everyone who needs us.”

UNISON regional organiser, Neil Duncan-Jordan, said: “Far too many hospitals have ageing buildings that aren’t designed for rising temperatures because the government has failed to invest in them.

“The trust has a duty to look after the welfare of staff and patients and there are lots of sensible measures that will help. They include using fans and air conditioners, opening windows, providing cold drinks and giving staff regular breaks.

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“UNISON has been campaigning for maximum temperatures in workplaces and these are long overdue.”

Ellen McNicholas, the Royal College of Nursing’s regional director, said: “Hot weather always poses issues for both patients and nursing staff. Employers must do all they can to protect the health and well-being of patients and staff when the temperature rises. Issues such as more extreme temperatures really expose the lack of funding in the NHS infrastructure.

“Nurses will always work to the best of their ability within the confines of their role. It is essential that all care setting environments are well ventilated, and that people are encouraged to drink water and given time to rest and rehydrate.”

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