AN INVESTIGATION is under way after pictures of sick pensioners on a hospital ward were posted on a social networking site.
Two bed-ridden women were photographed on a ward at Nevill Hall Hospital, Abergavenny, with the image placed on Facebook along with a string of comments mocking them for throwing up, having “accidents”, false teeth and a “green mist” surrounding them.
The Aneurin Bevan Health Board (ABHB) confirmed it is investigating a complaint made about the photo and says it is treating the breach of confidentiality “extremely seriously”.
A photograph was posted using a mobile phone by a fellow patient, who the Argus has decided not to name, with friends commenting things like “There’s a funny green mist surrounding her” and “Why have they put you on the old birds ward! That’s just cruel”.
An incensed Facebook user spotted the exchanges and notified South Wales East AM Lindsay Whittle, who contacted the Aneurin Bevan Health Board and the older persons’ commissioner.
Mr Whittle said: “I’m appalled that the privacy of unwell patients has been breached while in hospital.
“It is extremely insensitive of this lady and her friends to post comments of such a derogatory nature.”
The patient refers to her empty bed, visible in the photo, saying “I’m not getting into that bed for her to get me”, to which her friend replies “There’s a funny green mist surrounding her.
I’d be scared too”.
Another friend, then joins in saying she laughed out loud (LOL) on the bus on seeing “that old bird”, but admits feeling an “inch small” when she noticed a pensioner sat next to her looking at her phone.
The patient then refers to one patient, saying “LOL funny, she’s boffing (being sick) now”, before joking “She asked me if I would get her false teeth for her, omg no way”.
Friends then say they will “storm the place and break you out”.
Mr Whittle has called for tighter controls on communication technology in hospitals.
Aspokesman for the ABHB said: “We have a clear policy about the use of mobile phones in hospitals. They should only be used for communication purposes and not to take photographs.
“We take any breach of confidentiality extremely seriously and took immediate action as soon as we were made aware of this concern.
“Facebook have been contacted with a request that the photographs be taken down.”
‘Invasion’ of patient privacy
OLDER persons’ commissioner for Wales Sarah Rochira said: “This post shows no respect and is a sad example of the stereotypical way in which older people are often portrayed.”
It was described as “an invasion of the older patients’ privacy”, with Ms Rochira adding: “I have spoken with the health board to express my concerns and I am reassured by the action that they have in hand. The immediate priority for all of us must be the protection of the older people in the photograph.”