The Royal College of Nursing has called on trusts to allow nurses to take water bottles onto the wards during the current heatwave, in order to avoid dehydration.
The college said that some hospitals were getting so hot that patients and relatives are passing out and vomiting according to worried nurses.
“Hospital management should allow water bottles on shift so staff can stay hydrated”
The heatwave has seen temperatures on some wards reach more than 30 degrees, with nurses reporting feeling ill and expressing concerns about the welfare of patients.
Yet many nurses say they are not able to stay properly hydrated, as some hospitals do not allow water bottles on wards, and there is no time to take breaks on understaffed wards.
Many hospitals – particularly newer modular builds – were not designed with very hot summers in mind, and are not fitted with air conditioning, noted the RCN.
It warned that the situation could get worse, if temperatures continued to rise.
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Anna Crossley, the RCN’s professional lead for acute, emergency and critical care, said: “Nursing staff should not be expected to work 12 hours shifts in stifling heat with no access to water.
“Not only is this extremely uncomfortable, it is dangerous, both for them, and the patients they care for,” she said.
“Dehydration in overheated hospitals is a health risk and can lead to serious conditions – including urinary tract infections and acute kidney injury,” she said. “By law, patients, relatives and staff must have easy access to water.
She added: “Dehydration also affects cognition, which could lead to mistakes. Hospital management should allow water bottles on shift so staff can stay hydrated and make sure they have breaks. This is an issue of patient safety.”