A WARD at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading had to be evacuated of all its patients after a flood caused by ageing water pipes. 

Staff on the Hopkins ward, which specialises in urology, had to move every single patient to a different ward on a different floor, following the flood in August 19. 

Those involved in the evacuation gave details to the hospital’s board of directors on September 25. 

Melanie Martin, sister on the Hopkins ward, said there was one particular patient for whom a move would have been ‘very traumatic’. 

This patient suffered seizures, which were predisposed by noise. Ms Martin said: “She just could not cope with hustle and bustle. Moving her would be quite challenging.” 

A lot of planning went into moving the patient, Ms Martin said. She was left until the end so it would be quieter, and moved with headphones in. 

A team of clinicians were on hand, following closely behind, in case she had a seizure. But Ms Martin said: “She got there safely, and all was well with her.” 

Angella Hindle, facilities manager, said the patients were moved to the acute stroke unit, which was closed for refurbishment. She said: “There wasn’t even toilet roll in there.”

Ms Hindle praised the strong leadership on the day, and the clear and calm approach to communication. 

She said one staff member told her: “There weren’t too many people giving orders. We all knew what we had to do, and we did it together.” 

The flood also caused the lift to break, so food, drink and linen had to be delivered to the ward up the stairs by hand. 

Sue Hunt, the deputy chair of the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust, said the flood highlighted the importance of the hospital’s plan to improve its infrastructure. 

Ms Hunt said: “We do need to get this master plan sorted, so we can solve this problem with our drains.” 

Guy Kieser, an engineer from the estates team, said that almost every month, a section of water pipe, installed in the 1970s, fails. Mr Kieser said the water rose to knee-high, and there was a terrific response by everyone.