Cancer patient forced to sleep in “consultation room” because of bed shortage

The recovering cancer patient was forced to sleep in a hospital “consultation room” due to a bed shortage. Martyn Wells, […]

James McKay
7 April 2018

The recovering cancer patient was forced to sleep in a hospital “consultation room” due to a bed shortage.

Martyn Wells, 49, was placed in the cramped windowless room at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital last Wednesday – just hours after having a total gastrectomy, an operation which removes the stomach.


The IT Director and father of four has been battling cancer since he was diagnosed with stage four malignant melanoma earlier this year.

Mr Wells tweeted a picture of his cupboard to Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt but is still yet to get a reply.

Image: Martyn Wells

In a statement on social media, Mr Wells Said; “Cupboard. I woke up in a cupboard. So I lie here typing this, surrounded by cannulas, stoma bags and other accessories.

“A team of ninja nurses burst into my room in the small hours, told me gently I was being moved and wheeled me into another dark haven. 


“Waking this morning I find my new location is a cupboard. Are things SO bad in our great health service that they have to move stage IV cancer patients into a cupboard? Whatever happened to patient dignity?
I’ve been told to use the staff toilet and have no access to any washing facilities. The staff toilet is 50 metres up the main corridor; handy when you’re on an overnight drip feed and have been given laxatives.

“I’m going home. There’s no reason for me to be here now; half my staples were removed yesterday and I’m pretty sure I have all the tools I need in my new room to remove the rest. I can run my own food pump, have received dietician advice and my blood results are trending back to normal so I’m getting discharged. It’s going to be a long and careful convalescence but I’m sure it’s now the best place for me.
I’m trying hard not to moan as I am genuinely grateful just to be alive but I’ll be glad to get home as there is something very wrong with the bed management in our hospitals.”

A spokesman for the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation said: “We are sorry Mr Wells is unhappy with his situation.

“The trust has a standard operating procedure for capacity escalation and a full capacity protocol which are strictly followed to ensure the safe care of all of our patients.


“When a ward reaches maximum capacity a patient who is clinically fit for discharge may be moved into a consultation room to allow another patient with clinical needs to be transferred onto the appropriate ward.

“The consultation rooms such as the one occupied by Mr Wells are fully equipped clinical areas and are used to support capacity management across the hospital.

“The dignity and safe care of all of our patients remains our priority.”

Mr Wells is set to walk the length of the River Severn in ten days in September to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support. His fundraising page can be found here.

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