Are hospital wards too noisy at night?

Hospital ward image

Nurses say a good night’s sleep is essential

Nurses attending the Royal College of Nursing conference have said that hospitals need to do more to ensure that patient’s get a decent night’s sleep, as badly run wards and general thoughtlessness were keeping people awake.

Their main comment was that patients need to stop being moved or discharged overnight, as this is very disruptive for all patients, interrupting vital restful sleep. Other factors mentioned were alarms going off, conversations between staff, telephones and even squeaky shoes.

Good night’s rest

Simple measures such as putting alarms and bleepers on vibrate and turning down ringing tones on phones could make a huge improvement, suggested the delegates at the Liverpool based conference.

Hospital nurse Debbie Simmonds told BBC News “Sleep is a basic human need and is fundamental to good mental and physical health. Our hospitals are getting busier and patients are more poorly.” Fellow nurse Maura Buchanan also said “The source of most complaints about noise are nurses talking too loud, listening to the radio and waking patients up for observations, which sometimes you have to, sometimes you don’t. There are cases even of waking patients up to give them sleeping tablets.”

However, Margaret Devlin, from Northern Ireland believes eradicating noise completely is unrealistic, stating “Please remember a hospital at night is a working environment. It is not a hotel. There is a need to communicate and move. We can’t stop that.”