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Scotland reports progress on single rooms


The Scottish government has announced that 26 hospitals in the country now have 100% single rooms.

This represents 12% of Scotland’s 218 hospitals. Overall 32% of hospital beds across Scotland are now in single rooms.

However, 10 hospitals still have no single room provision.

Former Scottish health secretary Nicola Sturgeon said in 2008 that single rooms would become the norm for new and refurbished hospitals.

Her successor Alex Neil reinforced the commitment last week.

Health Secretary Alex Neil said: “We already have 26 hospitals with 100% single rooms, which is a great step forward for both infection control and patient dignity, and I would like to further reinforce my commitment to 100% single rooms for all new hospitals.

“There is strong evidence of the effectiveness of single rooms in minimising risks of healthcare associated infections and in protecting dignity for patients, and that is why in Scotland we are moving to greatly increase the number of single rooms,” he added.

Migdale Hospital in Bonar Bridge and the Royal Victoria Building in Edinburgh are among the projects completed over the last few years with 100% single rooms.

The £842m South Glasgow Hospitals Campus will consist of 100% single rooms for adult patients, and of over 80% single rooms in the children’s hospital, when it is completed in 2015.


Readers' comments (2)

  • Minimising risks of infection? We are already achieving massive improvements in reducing HAI's in Scottish hospitals without 100% single rooms. It's totally unnecessary and there is no mention of how these wards will be staffed. At present, in a 28 bedded acute surgical ward- the two trained and one untrained staff often rely on other patients in four bedded areas to alert us of patients at risk of falls. Will be interesting to see how falls rates change, not to mention patient isolation and recovery time. Personally I am dreading it- all seems a bit like a knee jerk reponse to negative media....

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  • The 100% single room policy will deprive about half of the population of their choice of accommodation and adds some 15% to the cost of a 50/50 mix of single rooms and four-bedded wards. A survey of patients in Dumfries Infirmary showed that 70% of patients in four-bedded bays and 40% of patients in single rooms would prefer shared accommodation if re-admitted; and in a survey of 990 patients across Scotland only 41% expressed a preference for a single room.
    Isolation in a single room deprives patients of companionship, diversion from their own problems, and the opportunity to 'watch out' for one another. A consultant states “there is no evidence base for the policy. Single rooms are what upper middle class professionals would want if admitted for elective surgery but will amount to sensory deprivation in solitary confinement for the middle aged/elderly emergency medical admission. Around 50% single rooms is sufficient to isolate patients during outbreaks of hospital acquired infections.”
    A health board member comments “for many elderly patients even a day in hospital is a long time to be on your own, let alone a week or more. More staff are needed for nursing and cleaning single rooms. There is also evidence of more falls in single rooms, and increased capital and running costs.”
    Dumfries Advocacy Service has many examples of patients frightened, even terrified, of being in a single room and of others who felt that their recovery improved when there were patients around to talk to – diverting them from their own problems and pain. There are also examples of patients in nearby beds drawing attention to and helping others who had fallen, choked or had a problem back at home.
    The problem ids how to persuade an intransigent Scottish Government to abandon this counter-productive and expensive policy in favour of a mix of single rooms and shared bays. The implications for nursing and keeping a watchful eye on patients are considerable, so should the nursing profession perhaps take a lead in this?

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