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Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust

Lack of nursing staff at Royal Cornwall, says CQC

Royal Cornwall Hospital has been told to address a shortage of nurses on some wards after a review of care found staff “struggling” to meet the needs of patients.

A Care Quality Commission inspection – sparked by concerns about the welfare of vulnerable patients – concluded the trust was failing to comply with a key quality and safety standard to ensure appropriate staffing levels.

On one ward where patients were “very demanding of staff time”, staff “seemed hard pressed to meet their individual needs”, said the CQC report.

“We saw staff on Wheal Agar ward struggling to meet the demands of patients,” it said. “Many of the patients needed two staff to help them and others were wandering around with no focus.”

One relative reported a patient had soiled themselves after waiting too long for assistance and inspectors witnessed a patient take a piece of electronic equipment from the nurses’ station “which might have been harmful to her or become damaged”.

Staff reported staffing levels went in “peaks and troughs” and said agency workers brought in to help did not always have the skills and experience to look after people with dementia.

Inspectors, who also noted many positive aspects of care, were told a review of staffing levels across the hospital was under way.

Andrew MacCallum, nurse executive at the trust, said the CQC’s observations showed that “notwithstanding the pressures sometimes faced, our staff are clearly committed to and delivering high standards of patient care”.

Efforts to address staffing levels would include recruiting additional nurses, he confirmed.

Readers' comments (3)

  • How interesting, as this is one of the hospitals in the 'South West Group' who are threatening sackings followed by re-employment under local terms and conditions!! (i.e. less pay, worse conditions.)

    Doesn't sound like a recipe for success to me on every level that I can think of.

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  • I agree, staff in these areas are already giving above and beyond their contracted hours, for free, out of a sense of dedication and professionalism. Hundreds of thousands of unpaid hours are worked to attempt to fill the gaps left by low staffing levels such as this, to try to train and mentor the next generation of nurses, with no protected time to do so, and simply to keep updated oneself and meet the needs of patients. A small saving on pay will lead to a massive loss of goodwill and unpaid overtime, and these hours will need to be covered by agency staff to maintain even a token level of safety.

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  • What a pity that Andrew MacCallum needs the CQC to identify the need for additional staff.

    He is responsible for placing patients at risk and clearly is in breach of the NMC Code Of Conduct.

    Why do I believe Andrew MacCallum will not be facing a fitness to practise panel at the NMC?

    Answers on the back of a postage stamp please !

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