Toast ban leaves hospital patients facing dialysis without breakfast
DIALYSIS patients using life-saving equipment at Cossham Hospital for up to five hours at a time have spoken out after being told they could no longer have breakfast.
Kidney dialysis patients say they look forward to being served toast during their early morning treatment, which sees them wired up to a machine from 8am to past midday.
But letters were sent to morning session patients, informing them that from October 21 staff would no longer be supplying toast but will be offering biscuits instead.
The memo goes on to say that even if patients bring their own bread, staff will not be able to toast it for them.
Anthony Gregor, 52, who attends the unit three times a week, called the move “disgusting”.
“I get to the unit at 7.30am but there's some people who are in even earlier at 6.45am – we haven't got time for breakfast at home,” he said.
“A lot of elderly patients don't really fancy eating when they get up at 6am so at 9am they look forward to their cup of tea and two slices of toast. It might not seem much but it makes a difference – it's a morale booster.
“But now we've been informed they're stopping the toast. I asked if it was because of money because most patients would pay to cover the costs, but they said it wasn't, it was to follow suit to the other satellite dialysis units. In my opinion, that's not a reason.
“I asked if I could bring in a toaster but was told I couldn't. We've been told that they won't be able to heat food up in the microwave for us either. They said I could have sweet biscuits instead but as I'm a Type 1 diabetic, I can't eat that. I don't really fancy that for my breakfast anyway.”
Anthony said patients are unable to get themselves food once they are attached to a dialysis machine so depend on staff to support them.
“Once we're rigged up, we can't move for at least four hours. We're stuck on a bed and can't just hop off and nip down to a cafe.
“We're very restricted on dialysis but having toast brought round makes you think it's not so bad after all. It's an awful long time from when you go in to when you get home if all you're offered is a couple of sweet biscuits.
“Something has to be done – it's just not right.”
It is estimated that around 40 morning patients will be affected by the new ruling.
North Bristol NHS Trust runs the unit alongside other satellite centres at Knowle West Health Park and Weston General Hospital, with the main unit based at Southmead Hospital.
The unit at Cossham has 24 dialysis stations with a capacity to care for 96 patients.
Anthony, whose nickname is Fred, contracted kidney disease as result of Type 1 diabetes, which he was diagnosed with at the age of 10.
He has been receiving dialysis, a process where waste products and excess fluid are removed from the blood, since January. After being treated for two months at the Southmead Hospital unit, a place became available at Cossham, which is nearer his Kingswood home.
On the morning of his sessions, Anthony gets up at 6am before being picked up by taxi to take him to the Lodge Road hospital. Apart from not feeling like eating so early, he says he is too busy getting his daughter ready for school and injecting himself with insulin to think about breakfast.
“I have lots of things to deal with and by the time I've done them, the taxi is outside waiting.
“I'm one of the younger ones – most patients are in their 60s or 70s, and I think it's an awful long time to go from 6am until the time they get dropped home at around 2pm with only being offered sweet biscuits.”
Anthony said: “The people who are on my shift are disgusted about it but they've been told there's no point in moaning about it because it's going to happen. But if you don't protest or speak up, then nothing will change.”
Colin West, 86, who lives in Easton, has been visiting the unit for 18 months.
He said: “I very much enjoy my piece of toast. It helps to break the day up and gives me something to look forward to. You're on a bed for four hours, so it's something to pass the time away and you have someone to talk to when you're given the toast.
"It's not the fault of the nursing staff, they sent the letter out because they were told to.
“It's not the end of the world but it does seem we've been put upon for no apparent reason.”
A spokesperson for North Bristol NHS Trust said: “After listening to patients we will be offering toast while we engage with them further to find a long-term solution.”