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Kent and Canterbury Hospital dialysis patients left ‘freezing’ for two weeks due to boiler breakdown

Patients endured “tortuous and freezing” conditions for more two weeks on a ward at Kent and Canterbury Hospital because of a boiler breakdown.

Up to 40 of them suffering with kidney failure struggled to keep warm while undergoing dialysis on the Thomas Becket ward.

And claims by hospital bosses that extra heating maintained the temperature at 22 degrees have been rubbished by patients who were forced to bring in extra blankets and duvets.

Reg Hansell wrapped up on the freezing ward while having dialysis at Kent and Canterbury Hospital

Reg Hansell wrapped up on the freezing ward while having dialysis at Kent and Canterbury Hospital

Eventually, angry and frustrated by the lack of action, they complained and handed in a petition to hospital bosses.

The complaints were led by retired civil engineer Reg Hansell, 70, from Shepherdswell – a former leader of Dover District Council – who said the conditions and delays in fixing the boiler were unacceptable.

“Some of the patients who come in for dialysis are quite frail and it was tortuous for them because it was freezing. Visitors complained about it too” – Reg Hansell

He said: “Dialysis is not a pleasant experience and to endure the cold for four hours at a time in those conditions was uncomfortable to say the least.

“Some of the patients who come in for dialysis are quite frail and it was tortuous for them because it was freezing. Visitors complained about it too.

“Claims the ward was kept at 22 degrees are rubbish. My house is kept at that temperature so I know what it feels like and it was definitely much colder – more like 15 degrees.

“My nose was cold and I even considered wearing a balaclava. Some patients even brought in duvets.

“I don’t blame the nurses, who were cold themselves and had to give out extra blankets and suggested we bring in our own fleeces. But no one from the hospital management came in to apologise and explain what the problem was.”

Mr Hansell, who has been on dialysis for four years and cannot have a kidney transplant for medical reasons, added: “Briefly as an apprentice, I helped manufacture boilers. When we delivered a boiler to industry, we sent spares for parts we knew could cause a problem so that repairs could be carried out immediately.

“The hospital did not have the necessary spares and therefore patients had to suffer the cold conditions for two weeks. That’s no way to run a hospital. The question now is ‘will the hospital buy spares for the next time this happens’?”

Reg Hansell of Shepherdswell with his letter of apology

Reg Hansell of Shepherdswell with his letter of apology

Finbarr Murray, director of the Hospital Trust’s Estates and Facilities, said: “We are sorry that our patients in the Thomas Becket Unit at Kent & Canterbury Hospital have been inconvenienced by one of the two heaters serving the unit becoming faulty.

“Renal patients require a higher room temperature while undergoing dialysis and our staff have been helping them to keep warm during their dialysis with the help of additional blankets.

“A second boiler has continued to be operational during this time maintaining a temperature of at least 22 degrees.

“Our building management system sounds an alarm if the temperature drops to 20 degrees or below, which has not happened during this time.

“We keep spare parts but they must be fitted by a Gas Safe registered engineer, which is what has caused this delay. We expect the faulty boiler to be back up and running before the end of this week.”

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