DISABLED patients are to benefit from a £35,000 grant to build a Changing Places facility at Salisbury District Hospital.

Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust is one of ten receiving a share of more than £500,000 of government funding, which was announced today (Friday, January 24) by the Department of Health and Social Care.

Changing Places are toilets with additional equipment for people who are not able to use the toilet independently, including adult-sized changing benches and hoists.

Denise Major, the deputy director of nursing at Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We’re delighted that we will now be able to better meet the needs of patients with a learning or physical disability and will be able to provide them with a more dignified experience.

“We know that simple adjustments can make a big difference, and this is just one of the steps we’re taking to improve care and ensure people with disabilities are treated well in our hospital. We hope the new Changing Place facility will be in place by the end of this year.”

There are currently only around 40 of these Changing Places facilities on the NHS England estate and with this funding it is expected that the total number in hospitals will eventually increase to more than 100.

Minister for Care Caroline Dinenage said: “People with severe disabilities in Salisbury deserve to live with dignity and independence, but lack of access to adequate toilet facilities can be a huge challenge. Hospitals, like all public spaces, have a duty to cater for people with disabilities – who risk discomfort, embarrassment and even injury without access to a Changing Place.

“This funding will make a real difference to thousands of people and their carers who use Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust and I am delighted that they can begin building work as soon as possible, with further funding still available.

“While today will help us to double the number of Changing Places in NHS Trusts, we still have far to go – I expect every hospital development to include a Changing Places facility in their future plans.”

A further £1.5 million will be available for NHS Trusts to bid for.

Catherine Woodhead, the chief executive of Muscular Dystrophy UK and co-chair of the Changing Places Consortium, added: “When a hospital doesn’t have a Changing Places toilet, disabled people may struggle to attend important medical appointments or visit family and friends. This is unacceptable, and not only puts their health at risk but can leave them isolated.

“We’re pleased that ten hospital trusts have successfully applied for funding to install Changing Places toilets, but more need to follow their example. We strongly encourage all those who haven’t already done so to commit to being more inclusive and apply for a share of the DHSC’s [Department of Health and Social Care] funding.”

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government consulted last year on proposals that would add Changing Places toilets to more than 150 new buildings a year, including shopping centres, supermarkets, cinemas, stadiums and arts venues.

The proposals would add the facilities to specific new, large buildings commonly used by the public, as well as those undergoing building works. The consultation closed in July and the department says it intends to respond in spring this year.