Hospitals let down grieving relatives

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The Independent Online
GRIEF-STRICKEN relatives of hospital patients who die suddenly are being given little or no support, according to a Government-commissioned report published yesterday.

Some hospitals refuse to give relatives access to dead patients, while others fail to set aside a room for the bereaved, it reveals.

Based on a survey of 248 casualty departments, the report highlights an alarming lack of care for distressed relatives in their time of need.

The study, carried out by the Royal College of Nursing and the British Association of Emergency Medicine, shows:

l More than six in 10 casualty departments have no written procedure for caring for bereaved relatives.

l Fewer than half the hospitals have a special room for relatives to visit the patient.

l Only half of departments provide formal training for staff.

l Although most hospitals have a sitting room for relatives, not all provide facilities such as a telephone or toilets.

The report calls for better training for nurses and doctors to support the bereaved.

It concludes relatives must have access to the patients who have died and should be supported by a member of staff with the right training.

A quiet room should be provided for relatives and a special room set aside for them to be with the dead patient.

RCN General Secretary Christine Hancock said: "Providing sensitively designed facilities for relatives needs to be a greater managerial priority."