UK first as silk flower machine helps cheer patients

Patient Catherine Vowles recieves silk flowers from Norah Charlesworth, ward clerk on J9, Gledhow Wing at St James' Hospital
Patient Catherine Vowles recieves silk flowers from Norah Charlesworth, ward clerk on J9, Gledhow Wing at St James' Hospital
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FLOWER power is being brought on to hospital wards through to the country’s first vending machine selling artificial blooms.

As most NHS hospitals ban real flowers in some areas, a West Yorkshire firm has installed the equipment in St James’s Hospital in Leeds, with elderly patients being given free posies this weekend.

The vending machine is currently at an elderly care ward in Gledhow Wing at St James’s, with the hope that after this weekend it can be permanently located on the site and that the machines could be rolled out across the country.

Kay Lawton, the deputy facilities manager at St James’s, said: “Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust has a ban on fresh flowers across many of our wards and though we have good reason to do so, we are really excited about this campaign. We believe that silk flowers are a truly brilliant way to provide the holistic benefits that flowers can give to our patients whilst combatting some of the health and safety issues.”

Venessa Hodgson, from East Ardsley-based Country Baskets, added: “We really appreciate the concerns around taking fresh flowers on to wards, especially on certain highly sensitive or quick turnaround wards.

“But there are real, proven benefits to giving flowers to people who are stressed, unwell or feeling down and we think it’s really important that those benefits are not ignored – especially when our research has shown that people think that artificial flowers are looking increasingly like real flowers.”

Hospitals may ban real flowers for a variety of reasons, including the risk of triggering allergies and infection control. At Leeds Teaching Hospitals, decisions are made on a ward-by-ward basis, but a ban is in place on intensive care and high dependency units.