NHS hospitals: 16 new Changing Places toilets announced

Funding for 16 new Changing Places toilets is given for 10 NHS buildings in England

A funding injection of £500,000 is expected to increase the current number of Changing Places toilets in NHS hospitals throughout England, adding around 16 extra toilets. The Department of Health disclosed that there are currently only 50 specialist toilets in NHS buildings throughout the UK, making it difficult for disabled individuals to use the bathroom.

The absence of appropriate toilets can be translated into the indignity of lying on a public bathroom floor – an unimaginable concept for able-bodied individuals.

What is a Changing Places toilet?

Changing Places toilets have the necessary equipment for people who are not able to use a toilet completely independently, meaning that there are adult-sized changing benches and hoists for safe, stable movement.

What happens without Changing Places toilets?

• Disabled individuals and carers limit what they drink to avoid needing the toilet when they are out – risking dehydration and urinary tract infections
• Can end up sitting in soiled clothing or dirty nappies until a suitable toilet is found or they return home
• Face having to be changed on a dirty toilet floor
• Engage in manually lifting someone out of their wheelchair – risking safety
• Usually results in reducing their time out of the house – restricting their social lives

What do people think of this new funding?

Lorna Fillingham, Changing Places campaigner, said:

“My 9-year-old daughter is disabled, she has physical and learning disabilities that mean she may never be toilet trained. When she was a baby her toileting needs were catered for, but as she has grown older, in most places, including my local hospital, they no longer are.

“Like many other disabled people she really needs Changing Places toilets, with a loo, adult changing bench and a hoist. I have had to physically lift her, using manual moving and handling techniques that I would not have been allowed to use when I used to work as a nurse, and which puts both myself and my daughter at the risk of physical harm.

“Changing Places change lives and should be in place in every NHS hospital for dignity, for safety, for comfort. I’m pleased the government is taking action to improve accessibility and hope more trusts apply for funding and have a Changing Places facility built at their hospital.”

Speaking to Sky News, Anna Morell from Disability Rights UK, said:

“There are a quarter of a million people who need to use these facilities across the country. It would be amazing to see them in every hospital, and what we’d like to see in time is one on every ward – just like with [standard] toilets.”

Over £500,000 has been made available, and the UK Government stresses that £1.5 million is left to bid for in the near future. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) consulted last year on proposals that would add Changing Places toilets to more than 150 new buildings a year, including shopping centres, supermarkets, cinemas, stadiums and arts venues.

The proposals would add the facilities to specific public buildings, as well as those undergoing building works. MHCLG should respond to the consultation in spring, 2020 and secure the promised funding to such buildings.

The activist Lorna Fillingham is championing a petition, which can be signed here:

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