City florists have said a decision to ban flowers from wards at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary will have a major effect on their businesses.
University Hospital of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust has implemented a no-flower rule in the interests of the safety of its patients, visitors and staff.
The move is in line with the majority of other acute trusts nationally.
Sue Smith, executive chief nurse, says it was a heavy-hearted decision but one the trust strongly feels will help to prevent avoidable infections and reduce the risk of harm.
She said: “We hope that our patients and visitors will understand that this step will help us to keep patients, visitors and staff safe on the wards by reducing the risk of potential infection and preventing slips, trips and falls from accidentally-spilt water.
“We also have patients who are allergic to pollen so this eliminates any risk. We tried a compromise by removing flowers from the bedside and putting them on the windowsill but we faced the same challenges.
“We are writing to as many of the local florists as we can to advise them of the change and to let them, in turn, let customers know that flowers can be sent to a patient’s house when they are back home.
“We hope members of the public will support us in this and consider alternative gifts.”
But John Mills, who owns The Hanging basket in Brock Street, said: “We are very disappointed. We have built our business up over the last 35 years and the hospitals have been a massive focus for us.
“This will have a noticeable effect. We have six or seven orders a week for the hospital and have already cancelled £100 worth in the first three days, including one from a lady in California.
“We will be offering an alternative in baskets of fruit or helium balloons, wine or chocolate.”
Carole Foley, manager of Daltton Square Florist, said: “This will definitely affect trade. We are going to have to look at alternatives.
“All our bouquets are sealed so the water shouldn’t come into contact with anything anyway.”
Previously, some areas such as the high dependency unit did not allow visitors to bring flowers in.
The rule is now consistent across the trust and includes plants and artificial flowers.
Infection prevention matron Angela Richards said flower water is a reservoir of bacteria, which has the potential for causing an infection to a patient, visitor or member of staff.
She said: “Cross contamination of the bacteria may occur through spills on to a surface, a patient or equipment. It can also be carried via hands washed in a sink where the flower water has been discarded.”