Save the Children
Youthline - Changing Lives
12 Sep 2018 5 Respondents
By Vanessa Peutherer
VX Community
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Many hospitals have long accepted policies of not permitting flowers in high-dependency units.   However, since 1996, most hopsital trusts nationwide have reportedly banned flowers from general wards. They were motivated by the need “to show they were taking hospital acquired infections seriously”. 

Hospitals have justified the ban on the grounds that flower water contains dangerous bacteria. Although a 1973 study found high counts of bacteria in flower water, subsequent research “found that there was no evidence that flower water has ever caused hospital acquired infection”. In a letter to the British Florist Association in 2007, the Department of Health said that it was “not aware of any instance of healthcare-associated infection being traced to cut flowers in the hospital ward setting”. 

Studies have suggested that hospital staff were more concerned about the practical implications of managing flowers than risks of infection. One nurse claimed that the biggest problem was curtains knocking over vases resulting in broken glass and water on the floor. Another nurse was “adamantly opposed” to flowers on the ward, saying that staff don’t have time to change the flowers’ water, spillages were responsible for falls and pollen caused hay fever.  Procedures for dealing with flowers vary from ward to ward.

Staff tended to be more receptive to flowers on private wards. One nurse on such a ward said that flowers were welcome as long as there weren’t too many and they weren’t too smelly. On this ward, rooms had space for flowers, and cleaners tended to them, therefore they didn’t consume nurses’ time.

One patient said that flowers made her feel better, while another said that they had “enhanced his experience of his hospital stay”. One study which found that flowers could elicit a smile and improved mood in women.  A small randomised controlled trial (RCT) which found that patients in rooms with plants needed fewer post-operative analgesics, had reduced blood pressure and heart rate, less pain, anxiety and fatigue, and more positive feelings than patients in a control group without flowers.

What do you think  - should there be a blanket ban on flowers in hospital units ?

It is proposed that the widespread blanket ban on patient flowers in hospital units should be abolished