Children given pots and pans to summon hospital help

An overcrowded Swedish hospital has resorted to giving children pans and spoons to bang in emergency situations, according to a report. As bedside alarms are not available for every patient at Ostra Hospital in Gothenburg, those being treated in the children’s ward are apparently being advised to use a more rudimentary method for attracting attention.

As well as a lack of alarms, some patients were also left without oxygen and relocated to wards where staff did not have the correct skills to care for them. All nine of western Sweden’s hospitals with emergency departments were also found to be overcrowded by the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare which carried out the probe.

“We have long ago passed the limit of what is acceptable. This is a huge problem,” Maria Tenggren of the union said in a statement. “We have, for years, nagged about the problem of overcrowding, but nothing happens,” she added.

Tenggren, who also works at Sahlgrenska University Hospital where a lack of beds has been found to compromise patient safety, went on to say that the hospital has three empty wards that it can open if overcrowding become too much. “However, with all the restrictions and reservations that exist, the opening of these extra spaces is rare. It looks great on paper, but it means nothing in practice,” she said.