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Norfolk hospitals stand by restrictions over flowers on wards

PUBLISHED: 17:00 19 December 2009 | UPDATED: 15:38 06 July 2010

Hospital bosses said they have no plans to change their rules on banning flowers from certain wards.

Hospital bosses said they have no plans to change their rules on banning flowers from certain wards.

Dan Grimmer

Hospital bosses said they have no plans to change their rules on banning flowers from certain wards even though research has revealed it could actually slow down a patient's recovery.

Dan Grimmer

Hospital bosses said they have no plans to change their rules on banning flowers from certain wards even though research has revealed it could actually slow down a patient's recovery.

Both the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston discourage flowers in an attempt to stop infections.

But new research has found that bans are ineffective and visitors taking bouquets into wards do not increase the spread of germs and in fact help speed a patient's return to health.

A growing number of hospitals have introduced “no flower” policies and the N&N and JPUH have a partial ban - it is left up to ward sisters whether they accept flowers or not and they are discouraged for very sick and high dependency patients.

Bosses believe there are potential health and safety risks to bedside electrical life support equipment as well as fears over the spread of germs, but research in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) says the risks have been “overplayed”.

There is no record of an outbreak of infection in a hospital being traced to bacteria found in flower water, according to Giskin Day and Naiome Carter from Imperial College London.

The researchers say studies show flowers have immediate and long-term beneficial effects on emotional reactions, mood and memory.

A spokesman for the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital said: “We don't have a formal policy on flowers and it's down to individual ward sisters.

“There are good reasons why flowers may be discouraged in hospitals and they include the dangers of water spillages leading to slips, or spilling on electrical equipment, possible bacterial or fungal infection risk from flowers, especially for patients who are immuno-compromised.

“We have no plans to change this here.”

At the James Paget University Hospital there is a policy in place to ensure only “essential items” are taken on to wards. A spokesman said this was not likely to change. He said: “We have a non-clutter policy, including not allowing flowers on our wards, to enable our domestic staff to clean to a high standard to ensure a clean and safe environment for patients.”

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn has no flower ban but advises people not to bring them into certain areas such as the intensive care unit.

The trial carried out by researchers found that patients in rooms with plants and flowers needed “significantly less pain relief after surgery”.

They also had lower blood pressure readings, lower rates of pain, anxiety and fatigue and more positive feelings than those who were in flower-less wards.

The BMJ article concluded: “Although flowers can undoubtedly be a time-consuming nuisance, the giving and receiving of flowers is a culturally important transaction.”

It recommends bedside lockers be designed to cut the chances of spillage from vases.


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