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NHS Whistleblower

Sunday Mirror newspaper - May 2022

A whistleblower contacted us because they were upset that patients at the end of their life weren't being given the dignity and respect that they deserved.

Our source claimed patients were being left in a side room during their final hours with just a screen around them.

The Sunday Mirror luanched an investigation and conatcted a number of whistleblowers who raised the same concern.

Please read the full story below.


Old people were left to die on a trolley in a hospital store room – with only a flimsy screen to protect their dignity, whistleblowers say.

Witnesses say the miserable fate was endured by at least three brought into A&E at troubled Gloucestershire Royal Hospital last month.

Insiders say the pensioners, classed as end-of-life patients because of their condition, were left in so-called cohort rooms when no relatives could be found while waiting for beds.

Sources say similar patients with relatives present were dressed and taken to private rooms before they died.

Last night an insider said: “It broke my heart the first time it happened.

“I wouldn’t treat my pets like this, let alone our own elderly, who have the right to die with dignity. Nobody’s elderly relative needs to be in that corner in their last moments.”

The cohort rooms, manned by ambulance staff, were intended as holding areas for single non-serious patients arriving in A&E in order to free up ambulances.

But by the end of April, as many as four patients of different ages and ailments were held in the tiny rooms for up to 36 hours at a time, including dying elderly people

It is claimed ambulance workers raised concerns about the use of the cohort rooms for dying people with senior staff at the end of April.

Last December junior A&E staff at the same trust wrote an open letter to management detailing what they called systemic failures and “unsustainable working conditions”.

A whistleblower told ITV News that some managers told staff to “stop reporting patient safety issues”.

Conditions in the cohort rooms may be in breach of laws that say patients should be treated equally and with dignity and respect.

This includes respecting privacy, such as not keeping patients in mixed wards overnight, but hospital bosses say the rules do not apply to emergency areas.

The hospital’s ex-boss Deborah Lee enjoyed a total pay and pension package topping £385,000 in 2020.

Current acting boss Mark Pietroni is paid up to £195,000 a year.

In June 2020, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall visited the hospital to thank staff for their work during the pandemic. The Duchess said: “They are Britain at its best.”

Yesterday acting chief Professor Pietroni said: “Waiting times for urgent care can be long. We do use cohort areas to allow us to release ambulances and paramedics back to the community.

“These are certainly not used as a holding area for ‘end of life’ patients, whether or not these patients are accompanied by relatives.

“The safety, dignity and respect of every patient is always our overriding concern and we strongly refute the allegations that ‘end of life’ patients who are in our departments without relatives are treated any differently.


“These cohort reas are a temporary measure while a new, larger department is under construction.

“Our staff take the utmost care to ensure that patients who are at the end of their life are afforded the respect they deserve and are moved into side rooms as a matter of urgency.

“We are committed to delivering the best possible care but, sadly, these unprecedented times mean that, at times, the experience of both patients and staff may not be what we aspire to.”