Psychiatric patients in South Eastern Trust hospitals have been lying on mattresses on the ground because of bed shortages — with staff claiming the service is at “crisis point”.
According to the member of staff, the patients were only moved onto beds on Monday following concerns raised by staff involved in infection control, but they are now in side rooms, including an office and a room used for family visits.
The member of staff — who did not want to be identified — explained: “Until Monday there were two patients lying on mattresses in the Ulster and another on a mattress in the Downe.
“We’ve been told there may be a patient put on a mattress at Lagan Valley as well.
“We lost three beds in the Downshire recently, reduced from from 24 to 21, and the pressure on staff is getting out of hand.
“The people who were on the mattresses had only recently been admitted but they were simply replacing other patients who had been on the floor. Infection control came around and expressed concerns about them lying on the ground so they found beds for them.
“But they are in an office and a room used for family visits.
“This has been an ongoing problem for a while now but I feel like it is just being ignored by management.”
A spokeswoman from the trust said it has experienced a significant increase in admissions on a few occasions in the past few weeks.
She explained: “There are a number of reasons for this including the recent community concerns throughout the South Eastern Trust area about the level of suicide and serious self-harm among younger adults.
“The trust has found it necessary to put in place very temporary sleeping arrangements on some occasions.
“These temporary arrangements have included the use of additional space within the ward including a family room and an interview room.
“Whilst these are not ideal, they provide a safe and secure environment for a person at risk.”