Offer bingo to hospital patients 'to boost morale'

Bingo cards
Image caption Eyes down for a quick recovery

Providing activities like bingo to hospital patients could speed recovery and save the NHS money, say doctors' leaders.

Simple measures to beat boredom and keep patients happy should be offered by hospitals, according to the British Medical Association.

A spell of confinement can be a grim experience for some, says the BMA, leading to depression.

Its new report looks at the emotional needs of patients.

Rest and play

Dr Vivienne Nathanson, the BMA's head of science and ethics, said: "What people sometimes forget is that while helping people to feel better during their hospital stay we can reduce their need for painkillers, their likelihood of getting some depression and perhaps not eating enough.

"All of these things will limit their recovery and if we can speed people's recovery, they have shorter time in hospital, shorter time for the problems of being in hospital and of course save money."

She said simple measures, like making hospital rooms sunnier places with more natural light, could make a big difference.

As could keeping patients occupied and entertained with music, drama or games.

Dr Nathanson told the BBC's Today programme: "Any ward would need to look and say 'do we have a group of people for whom scrabble would be right or is bingo better for that particular group'."

She said every hospital should take a look at the changes they could make to improve the wellbeing and experience for their patients.

Katherine Murphy of the Patients Association said: "We welcome this report and hope that it will serve as a wake up call to healthcare providers to see the person behind the patient and to treat them with the dignity and respect they deserve.

"Healthcare professionals must stop treating people as widgets on a production line or a statistic and treat the person as a human being."

A Department of Health spokeswoman said healthcare professionals should plan care "according to a patient's individual needs to achieve the best possible clinical outcomes".

"They should also ensure value for money," she added.

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