A HOSPITAL patient who has coronavirus was moved onto a ward of critically ill patients before being tested, the Gazette can reveal. 

A Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital employee has described how the severely ill woman displaying symptoms of Covid-19 was incorrectly moved onto a ward with critically unwell women.

The whistleblower, who says they have been left "disgusted" by the hospital's alleged neglience, claims the decision to move an infected patient onto another ward goes against Hampshire Hospitals' policy which states infected people must be isolated.

The unwell patient remained on the ward around critically ill women for hours until results revealed she had tested positive for Covid-19, the whistleblower claimed. It is alleged nurses in ordinary uniform without wearing scrubs moved her onto the ward before her diagnosis. 

Hampshire Hospitals NHS Trust said it was untrue that a 'known Covid-19' patient was moved onto the ward. 

Basingstoke Gazette: The alleged incident happened on Wednesday (Credit: Sean Dillow)The alleged incident happened on Wednesday (Credit: Sean Dillow)

A spokesman for the Trust said: "The nurses in question wore personal protective equipment." 

The whistleblower contacted this newspaper after being appalled by the practice which they claim will lead to a 'dangerous spread' of the disease and warns the hospital is on the brink of an outbreak. 

A patient who was forced to temporarily share the ward with the Covid-19 sufferer has now been placed into isolation after displaying symptoms of the disease.

The whistleblower told the Gazette

  • A patient displaying the symptoms of Covid-19 was moved onto a ward with vulnerable people with heart diseases on Wednesday before being tested
  • Nurses are treating suspected Covid-19 patients without being given proper protective equipment (PPE) 
  • Basingstoke hospital is ‘not equipped or ready’ for coronavirus

Speaking to the Gazette, the whistleblower has warned: “This disease is going to spread like wildfire across the hospital. Basingstoke Hospital consistently fails when it comes to containing infections.”

The whistleblower highlighted an outbreak of norovirus which took hold of Basingstoke hospital over December, with a temporary ban on visitors. 

Basingstoke Gazette: The coronavirus testing areas outside Basingstoke hospitalThe coronavirus testing areas outside Basingstoke hospital

The healhcare professional, who has worked for the NHS for more than a decade, described in detail the account which is alleged to have taken place on Wednesday.

They said: “On Wednesday, shortly after 2.30pm a patient became critically unwell after displaying symptoms of coronavirus.

“They were moved from one ward to another. This is disgusting practice and goes against our Trust’s guidelines.

“Anyone displaying signs of infection must be isolated where they are. This poor patient had no idea what was going on.

“She was moved onto a ward with four other critically ill women with heart conditions. She was swabbed and tested positive for coronavirus [Covid-19].”

The employee said that the practice of moving the patient displaying symptoms Covid-19 onto that ward put others in danger.

They said: “There were four other helpless people stuck in the same bay. Moving infected patients around is a death sentence.

“The other people on the ward didn’t know what was going on. They have the right to know that they were being kept on a ward with someone who tested positive for coronavirus but the information was being withheld from them by the Trust.”

The whistleblower alleged that as a result of the decision to move an infected patient, another woman on the same ward appears to now be displaying symptoms of the disease. 

Basingstoke Gazette: The whistleblower says it is wrong that workers outside in the screening bays are given better protective equipment than the nursesThe whistleblower says it is wrong that workers outside in the screening bays are given better protective equipment than the nurses

Basingstoke Gazette:

A relative of the secondary patient on the ward has contacted the Gazette to corroborate the account and said their loved one has been placed in isolation as a precautionary measure. 

A spokesman for Hampshire Hospitals NHS Trust has defended their practices and said all nurses treating Covid-19 patients are supplied with the correct form of personal protective equipment. 

The Trust said there were two patients being treated for Covid-19 currently at Basingstoke hospital and said there were 76 beds available.

The Trust said: "On Thursday evening, the Basingstoke Gazette took the decision to publish an article which carried a number of inaccurate and unsubstantiated claims about our handling of COVID-19.

"The situation is very different to that reported in the paper and we want to reassure our patients and staff that we have well-rehearsed plans in place to manage the outbreak and have been following all of the appropriate guidance to provide safe and effective care to our patients.

"The trust rigorously follows infection control rules and did not place a COVID-19 positive patient on a ward where they could not be properly isolated and we provide full personal protective equipment to all staff who need it.

"Our hardworking hospital staff have gone above and beyond and we would like to thank them for their efforts to prepare and manage any outbreak."

Basingstoke Gazette: Basingstoke and North Hampshire HospitalBasingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital

In an earlier statement, the Trust said: “It is simply untrue to say that patients have been put at risk – or that our staff lack the proper equipment to do their jobs safely and effectively.

“Our staff, who are working under increasing pressure, adhere to strict infection control guidelines, procedures - including those issued by Public Health England – and the highest professional standards.

“Patient safety is our number one concern and all the equipment and relevant training to ensure this is in place.

“The trust is following carefully considered plans and working closely with all partners both locally and nationally.

“By working together, we will continue to deliver safe, high quality care to all patients.”

However the whistleblower said they believe the Trust is not being honest. She said: “The Trust doesn’t want patients or staff panicking but the truth is – we all are.

“It is ridiculous that there are people in hazmat suits outside the front of the hospital testing people for coronavirus while nurses actually treating infected people with the disease aren’t being given any protective clothing at all.

“There is no continuity in the Trust. How can we deliver a gold standard service of care if we are not properly protected ourselves?”

They added: “We have asked and pleaded for protective clothes and we were told, ‘no, it will scare the visitors and patients’.”

“That’s utter *******. Who cares if it scares people? People should be concerned.”

The worker said they were frustrated with people downplaying coronavirus or dismissing it as nothing more than a ‘flu.

They said: “This is a dangerous respiratory disease. The people that recover are fine but this is more than just a flu. The death rate is already at 3 per cent.”

Basingstoke Gazette: A ward at Basingstoke and North Hampshire HospitalA ward at Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital

The healthcare worker criticised Public Health England for changing its guidelines on medics who come into contact with coronavirus patients.

On Wednesday, the authority altered its rules to allow members of staff who have been exposed to patients with Covid-19 to return to work as long as they don’t show symptoms.

“It is totally counter-productive and will only aid in spreading the disease,” the worker said. “This is why numbers are increasing dramatically.” 

On their decision to speak out, the NHS professional, who has worked in the industry for over a decade, said: “I am whistleblowing to the highest degree in the interest of the public because I am absolutely outraged at Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak.”

“From day one in China, their healthcare system has treated it seriously. Their nurses are given proper protective clothing.

“While at our hospital, you have nurses walking around spreading the disease. Not even wearing scrubs! It is completely unprofessional.”

The medic is urging Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to act immediately.

They said: “We need emergency measures and we need them now. We need outbuildings to treat people in away from the rest of the hospital to minimise the risk of infection.

“We need more staff. Nurses including myself have been working at a one to twelve ratio. How can you deliver a gold standard of care when you’re dealing with twelve critically ill patients at any one time?

“I can’t physically do the work quick enough. They need to get more people in before we move into the next stage.”

“The reason numbers of disease are multiplying is because they are moving patients onto other wards and not properly isolating them.”

The professional’s verdict on Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s measures is they haven’t been good enough. They said: “We have been fed lies and comfort from the government and our prime minister. Boris Johnson has pretended to the media that they are ready for coronavirus, that they have it under control.

“This couldn’t be further from the truth. I work on the inside. I know how it works."

  • What is your experience? Email newsdesk@basingstokegazette.co.uk