A hospital has blamed budget cuts for its decision to stop providing ice for patients’ water jugs.
Michelle Lewis discovered the move while visiting Addenbrooke’s in Cambridge, when she asked for ice for her friend’s water on an oncology ward.
The hospital, which has a deficit of about £1.2m per week, said the move would save almost £40,000 per year.
Ice was “still freely available for clinical use only”, including mouthcare and ice packs, a spokesman said.
Mrs Lewis requested ice for her friend, who is undergoing treatment for cancer, during a visit on Sunday, as “very cold water makes it easier for her to swallow her tablets”, she said.
She said she was “horrified and gobsmacked” when two healthcare workers and a member of catering staff told her ice had been removed from jugs “because of budget cuts”.
Ms Lewis said staff also told her she could not bring her own ice “for health and safety reasons”.
A hospital spokesman said it was “reviewing who needs ice for clinical treatments”.
“Wards need to call patient catering and it is issued on a bag-by-bag basis,” he said.
“We are looking at how we save money across the trust. Currently £39,000 [per year] is spent on ice in water jugs.”
“We also need to ensure that the water is coming out of the taps at the right temperature and there is a piece of work we will be undertaking into that,” the spokesman added.
He was unable to provide details of how this would be carried out.
The chief executive of a major NHS hospital has resigned after it was revealed the hospital is running a deficit of up to £1.2m a week.
Dr Keith McNeil had been appointed to the job at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge in November 2012.
The hospital’s chief finance officer Paul James has also resigned.
They have stepped down ahead of a Care Quality Commission report, which is due to be published soon.
Dr McNeil said it had been “a very difficult decision” to step down.
“It is a matter of public record that we face a number of very serious challenges here in Cambridge, including a growing financial deficit, and I feel the time is right to have new leadership in place,” he said.
“I am pleased our hospitals continue to provide our patients with outcomes that are not only some of the best in the UK, but in Europe.”
Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Addenbrooke’s, said its director of workforce David Wherrett would become acting chief executive while a permanent replacement was found.