A HOMELESS man spent the night in a disused ward at Hartlepool hospital unchecked - and even had a shower the next morning before he was discovered, it has been claimed.
And it has also emerged that staff at the University Hospital of Hartlepool are so concerned about security that one nurse asked for an alarm because she was too frightened to walk the corridors at night.
The shocking revelations were reported by councillors to health chiefs at a council Health Scrutiny forum meeting yesterday.
The vagrant is reported to have wandered into the hospital one night recently and slept in a bed on a disused ward, raising questions over safety for staff as well as patients who were asleep in other wards.
Senior councillors have called on hospital bosses to review the security measures for the safety of staff and patients.
Coun Keith Fisher, chairman of the audit and governance committee, said: “I can confirm that I was confronted by a gentleman who had to buy a personal alarm for his wife to carry around the hospital during the night because she was on the night shift and was afraid to walk around.
“There has also been a recent report about a vagrant who actually slept there all night and used the shower.
“If my wife was working there, I would be worried.”
The worrying revelations came to light as councillors were told of plans to move five out-patient clinics from Hartlepool hospital to One Life Hartlepool, in Park Road, in the new year.
Councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher, the ceremonial mayor of Hartlepool, said: “I think there needs to be a review of security.
“As there is a reduction in services ultimately it presents building problems and security issues because there are less people around.
“It is sad that we have got homeless problems in Hartlepool and someone took the decision to go to the hospital, but at the end of the day it is about the ultimate security of the place.”
He added: “I think it is quite serious and shows the true picture of the mess this trust is making of the hospital of Hartlepool.”
Coun Paul Beck, who the security fears were also reported to, added: “I wouldn’t consider the security at the hospital as robust.
“When I hear a resident complaining to me that their wife doesn’t feel safe in our hospital, that really concerns me.”
Meanwhile, out-patient clinics for rheumatology, diabetes, respiratory, pain services and ear, nose and throat, were due to move out of the hospital by August this year.
They are now due to move from early next year after delays with formalising the lease.
Councillor Brenda Loynes said: “Where our hospital was once bustling, now there is hardly anybody there.
“People are just rattling around.”
But the committee was also informed of developments at the hospital including the new 30-bed Holdforth Unit for patients who no longer need acute care, a new day case recovery and discharge area early next year, and one of the few places in the country to provide certain gynaecological surgical procedures.
Peter Mitchell, associate director of estates for North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The safety and welfare of our staff and patients is our priority.
“We have put increased security measures in place across the University Hospital of Hartlepool where areas are currently unoccupied or partially occupied.”