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Noise in NHS children’s wards is ‘breaching safe levels’: Young patients getting less sleep too

Noise in NHS children’s wards is ‘breaching safe levels’: Young patients are getting an hour less sleep than they would at home, study shows

  • Noisy children’s wards in NHS hospitals breach guidelines on safe sound levels
  • They also sleep less in hospital than at home, Children’s health experts found

Noisy children’s wards in NHS hospitals breach guidelines on safe sound levels, researchers say.

A study found children and parents slept for an hour less in hospital than at home, posing a risk to their health.

Experts from Southampton Children’s Hospital monitored sound levels at the bedsides of 40 children and 16 mothers in hospital and in their own home.

Noisy children’s wards in NHS hospitals breach guidelines on safe sound levels, say researchers who also found young patients are getting less sleep than they would at home.

Noise levels were an average of 48.24 decibels on children’s wards, compared with 34.7dB in bedrooms. The World Health Organisation says wards should be no louder than 30dB on average.

Children averaged seven-and-a-half hours’ sleep per night in hospital – 63 minutes less than at home. Mothers had six hours and 20 minutes – 73 minutes less.

Study leader Dr Catherine Hill, a consultant in paediatric sleep medicine, said: ‘When children lose sleep in hospital they have a lower pain threshold, are more emotional and may have lowered immune defences, so this is an issue we need to address.’

The study, published in the BMJ journal Archives of Disease in Childhood, said the importance of sleep had been stressed as long ago as 1859, when Florence Nightingale wrote: ‘Unnecessary noise is the cruellest absence of care.’

The authors added: ‘Despite 150 years of medical progress, we have forgotten the basic lessons of patient care.

‘Sleep is one aspect of care that can be freely delivered.’

Experts from Southampton Children's Hospital monitored sound levels at the bedsides of 40 children and 16 mothers in hospital and in their homes. Noise levels were an average of 48.24 decibels on children's wards, compared with 34.7dB in bedrooms

Experts from Southampton Children’s Hospital monitored sound levels at the bedsides of 40 children and 16 mothers in hospital and in their homes. Noise levels were an average of 48.24 decibels on children’s wards, compared with 34.7dB in bedrooms

 



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