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Staff given whistles to call for help in emergencies

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Hospital operating staff have been issued with whistles to blow for help in an emergency, it has been disclosed.

Managers at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford have conceded that there is no integrated call bell system in place.

Staff at the hospital have described the issuing of whistles as an “insult” and expressed concern that patients’ lives may be put at risk.

The operating theatres have a call bell that prompts a light to flash in a room near to the operating theatres and in the staff rest room.

The system is used to summon a porter for help with moving a patient to or from the operating theatre and recovery room, and fetching supplies and equipment.

But, although the call bell is still operating, the porters have now been moved to the open corridor in a bid to make them more “visible and accessible”.

However, it means the porters are not able to see the flashing lights and has prompted the issuing of whistles to help alert them.

Hospital chiefs said there were also other options available, including using an internal telephone system, an intercom and two-way radios.

A spokesman for Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, said there had been no incidents linked to the change in practice.

Amanda Middleton, general manager of critical care, theatres, diagnostics and pharmacy, said it seemed “eminently sensible” to have different ways of communicating to staff.

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