Welsh Hospital Apologizes for Forcing Tambourine Calling System on Elderly Patients

A hospital in Wales apologized for giving elderly and frail patients a tambourine to attract nurses' attention.

A National Health Service watchdog found that the musical instrument was the only emergency call system available to patients using a day room at the Cardiff Royal Infirmary's West Wing, the Western Mail reported Tuesday.

The son of a 90-year-old patient photographed the tambourine and claimed that there was also a pair of maracas in the day room for the patients to use to call for help.

"My mother and other patients won't go to the day room because of their fear of being left in a distressing situation, particularly toileting," the relative said. "I gave the tambourine a good hard shaking -- after 16 minutes I gave up as no one responded."

Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan Community Health Council chief officer Steve Allen said, "This is totally inappropriate -- patients shouldn't have to resort to shaking a tambourine to get a nurse's assistance."

Ruth Walker, executive director of nursing for the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, apologized for the tambourine.

"This does not afford any patient dignity and respect, let alone safety," she said. "The care and dignity of all our patients is vitally important to everyone at the health board, and we sincerely apologize for any distress this has caused."