Hospital looks at complaints

North Manchester General Hospital is investigating complaints about how it treats Jewish patients.

A report next week by the Crumpsall hospital, which serves the largest Jewish community outside London, is to outline strategies to tackle a host of issues. They include kosher meals given cold or partly frozen to patients, staff failing to offer Jewish chaplain and visitor services and delays in transporting patients who had died.

The report comes after 13 Jewish health workers met senior health officials last month. Hospital chaplain Rabbi Daniel Walker said: "They are listening to concerns."

But Rabbi Walker said the hospital trust's assistant chief executive had agreed to look into cases of delays to release bodies from the hospital to the Jewish mortuary, which the community runs on the hospital's campus. It meant problems for grieving families following Jewish burial traditions and also held up post-mortem MRI scans.

In another issue, Pearl Lopian, a volunteer visitor for the Federation of Jewish Services, said patients who wanted a visit had been left alone.

"When anyone is admitted to hospital staff are required to offer a visit from someone of their faith. I know some people who wanted to be on our list told me no one had offered a visit."

Nava Kestenbaum from Charedi charity Interlink, who co-ordinated the meeting, said little movement had been made in extending a bus route to the hospital which stopped short of Jewish neighbourhoods. She said people needed to complain to Greater Manchester's transport authority. But progress had been made to train nurses about Orthodox patients who couldn't fill in written forms on Shabbat, and the introduction of kosher snacks for sale in hospital shops.

"The hospital is proactive about trying to make sure services meet the needs of the community. We aren't slamming the hospital, they are doing well in many areas, but there are things that aren't as good at they could be."

Angela Wood, patient partnership manager at the Pennine Acute NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, said new cultural awareness training will begin in January. "We are going to do more staff training together with the chaplaincy to give more information about the needs of the Jewish population."

Last updated: 3:48pm, December 23 2010