A south London hospital has been lauded by health chiefs after pictures showing patients being kept in a formalised 'corridor ward' came to light. Nursing staff at Queen Mary's Hospital in Sidcup appear to have taken the unusual step after struggling with the previously random system used to decide where to allocate patients' corridor spaces.
'We now keep the majority of our non-infectious cardiac patients stacked in a neat line along the main first floor corridor,' explained Roger Smith, Medical Director for South London Healthcare NHS Trust. 'Patients are prioritised in order of increasing urgency as you head away from the main desk -- we find that patients with the greatest need naturally rattle harder on the little emergency cowbells we hand out to them all, so we put them furthest away.'
'Our nurses do still check the whole line from time to time, mind you, just in case the furthest patient has struggled to jangle loudly enough during their coronary.'
'Patients are shuffled up and down the line to a more appropriate position as their status changes -- they inevitably fall off the line at one end or the other,' he explained, 'either to the discharge desk situated at 'happy' end, where the wall is painted a jolly yellow colour, or to the hospital morgue which we have relocated at the critical, black-painted 'end-of-the-line' end of the line.'
'We don't tend to get very many bells rung from the furthest couple of beds to be brutally honest,' explained one cardiac nurse whilst pumping listlessly at the chest of an elderly patient, 'and I'm not entirely sure I've seen any movement from the last five beds for a couple of hours. I might unplug our Henry here and give some of them a zap from the defibrillator, then plug Henry back in so that the cleaner can carry on vacuuming.'
When asked about any flaws that could be corrected, Mr Smith did cite some improvements that he would like to see in the corridor facilities. 'We do get the odd complaint about the lack of privacy curtains, which I can understand. The patients do all learn to cope with dressing and undressing out of sight quite well, and they become very adept at peeing under their bed sheets -- sometimes they even manage to use those little cardboard bottles.'
'We can also only accommodate mains power for a maximum of two of the machines that go 'ping' at any one time,' he lamented, 'or three if we unplug the coffee machine, but that can't stay off for too long as it takes forever to re-boil the water.'