On Tuesday of last week a patient died suddenly and unexpectedly at Glasgow Royal Infirmary. It was the wishes of the grieving family that the body remain on the ward so that family members could gather to pay their last respects and also await a blessing by a priest.
Mindful of the need to balance the request made by the family with the needs of other patients, staff arranged for the patient’s body to be screened from view.
Unfortunately the priest was only able to attend some four hours after being notified of the death.
Visiting time had already begun by the time the family left the deceased and it would have been inappropriate and distressing for other patients and visitors for staff to have moved the body at this time. As soon as visiting time was over staff made arrangements for a respectful transfer of the body to the mortuary.
At no time was this patient “left on a ward” and was treated with dignity at all times.
We believe that on this occasion our staff acted in the best interests of a grieving family. The family have confirmed that they were very grateful to hospital staff for the compassion shown to them at such a distressing time.
We have a limited number of single rooms within our hospitals. Wherever possible we will use these single rooms to ensure that patients in the terminal stages of their life have dignity and privacy. However, there are competing needs for this accommodation, including the management of infections and patients with complex medical conditions.
Our long-term plans see us creating brand new accommodation at the new £850million new Southern General Hospital which will have 100% single rooms for all adult patients. In the meantime we are undertaking a rapid review of all our single room accommodation to see if there is any additional flexibility and capacity that can be created.
We have also have commissioned an audit of all mortuary facilities to ensure that our private viewing facilities are of an appropriate standard - this review will be complete within two weeks.
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