12:10pm Friday 7th December 2012
LINEN supplies in Gwent hospitals could be electronically tagged to try to stem losses that cost the NHS around £300,000 a year.
Aneurin Bevan Health Board bosses are developing a bid for an invest-to-save project for tagging – which would involve a loan to be paid back by savings – as part of a range of measures to improve supplies of items such as sheets, pillows, pillowcases and towels.
Shortages of linen on hospital wards, particularly at the Royal Gwent, were acute enough during last spring to be described as causing “serious patient dignity issues” in a report by Aneurin Bevan Community Health Council (CHC), Gwent’s independent patients’ watchdog.
Following a new hospital and patient environment audit, CHC members have reported that the situation has improved, but availability of linen remains patchy in some wards at the Royal Gwent and Nevill Hall hospitals.
Health board deputy chief executive and director of planning and operations Judith Paget said the health board laundry is now running six days a week in response to demand, a move that has improved supply, especially at weekends.
“There are proposals for an electronic tagging system for laundry and we are looking at an invest-to-save proposal,”
she said. “We are also looking at areas of our hospitals where supply is patchy, to see if demand has changed, for instance because the case mix on a ward has changed.”
Health board member Peter Sampson said: “There is clearly a huge amount of waste that we need to do something about.”
The linen supply issue was first highlighted by the Argus last May, after the CHC report and a ward nurse raised concerns about shortages.
Elderly patients were particularly affected, with incidents reported such as a rolled-up towel being put in a pillowcase because of a lack of pillows, and nurses having to “scour”
the Royal Gwent at weekends and bank holidays for supplies.
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