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Staffing concerns prompt urgent nurse recruitment drive in Dorset

An acute trust in the South West has begun “immediate” recruitment of extra qualified nurses in response to concerns the wards were short staffed.

Dorset County Hospital Foundation Trust is seeking to recruit an additional 33 whole time equivalent nurses, an increase of almost 6% on its existing establishment.

According to a recent Care Quality Commission report on the trust, there were 45 risk events related to inadequate staffing between August and October 2012.

A report to trust’s board in February said: “It has become evident that nursing staff in our main ward areas sometimes find difficulty in meeting all of the demands associated with the roles – whilst increasingly, ward managers are undertaking core nursing tasks, and are included within rostered numbers, in order to assist their teams.

“These issues are often compounded when ward areas experience increases in sickness absence, or maternity leave, or a combination of both.”

In response to these concerns, and following “comprehensive collective discussions with all ward sisters”, management had agreed to begin “immediate” recruitment of band 5 nurses, the board report said.

The trust has been planning to cut spending on pay by £4.2m during the financial year 2012-13, but due to high levels of activity has been unable to reduce headcount as planned.

It is the latest in a line of trusts that are being forced to recruit more nurses due to spiraling demand, as previously reported by Nursing Times.

At Dorset County the extra recruitment is also intended to allow the role of ward sister to become supervisory, in line with recent recommendations from the NHS Commissioning Board’s national nursing strategy and the Francis report from the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust public inquiry.

The trust has revised the ward manager job description to reflect this change and hopes it will lead to “well-motivated, well-supported and flourishing teams, high levels of staff engagement and improved staff well-being” – as well as less reliance on bank and agency staffing.


Readers' comments (24)

  • did it have to take 45 incidents to occur until the trust accepts there might not be enough staff?

    Poor old ward managers having to 'undertake core nursing tasks' in order to assist their teams, was that the basis of their comprehensive collective discussions.

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  • is this the same trust that is part of the south west pay cartel!!!

    just goes to show the bean counters (sorry managers!!!) have not got a clue about front line nursing

    so are they now going to stop the attack on the pay and conditions of thier staff...doubt that do you

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  • I am glad that this trust is taking heed the Francis recommendation with regards to ward managers becoming supervisory and actually being on the scene, having accountable and responsibility for good patient care.
    I worked there and far too long we had ward managers leaving all patients care in the hands of the nurses, while they are stuck in the office doing paper work.
    The staff at this hospital have been a very unhappy bunch for a long time with low morale, lots of experienced nurses left with so much resentment at how they were treated. Often understaffed even when all the staff are on duty.
    Dangerous when there is a member of staff down.
    Lots of staff sickness as overworked staff become vulnerable to illness.
    When ward managers who are nurses use their skills to teach, supervise, properly manage patients' care and look after their staff they will see improvements on the wards.

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  • Dorset County Hospital Foundation Trust the latest one it which "Senior Nurse Management" have been exposed as being useless and probably in breach of the NMC's code of practise !

    Why were the wards allowed to be come so short staffed ? Clearly patients were deliberately exposed to risk as a result of "the managements" desire to make savings.

    Strange how savings are found from amongst the clinical nursing workforce whilst the executives continue to award themselves bonuses !

    This is an example of a "Trust " running scared. Finally the CQC is discovering teeth and the media has awoken to the sheer evil intent of senior NHS "managers.

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  • 33 wte nurses, is that all newly qualified RNs or a range, or 25ish HCAs + 12 band 5s? Is it permanent contracts?
    Who would want to work in a trust where terms + conditions are likely to be affected by the 'cartel'?
    What support + improvements will there be for all nurses?
    45 risk events observed/reported by CQC, probably tip of the iceberg. Will it be enough to improve things noticeably?

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  • After their attempts in the south-west to abandon national terms and conditions I would be surprised if any nurses chose to relocate there. I know that particular attempt eventually failed but that philosophy no doubt persists and they have a habit of just finding a different way, like just under-grading in the first place.

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  • it doesn't look a very appealing place to work, I read the CQC report and the staff didn't sound happy.

    are any hospitals anywhere in the country staffed properly?

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  • tinkerbell

    similar to the BBC cover up, the NHS structure of management needs to change in order to change the culture.

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  • starting with nicholoson to go

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  • This trust should be commended for listening to staff and yes they have well have been prompted by the CQC.

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  • This is the hospital where a lot of stroppy
    management behaviour takes place. Staff are called in to explain their sickness even when they have a medical certificate.
    They are also told they cannot apply for Christmas time A/Leave on most wards, although senior sisters can have it off.
    Just imagine working in a place where you can never have one or two weeks of Christmas off with family. Staff cannot get more than two weeks off at a time they must get matron's approval, and there must be a damm good reason or the answer is no.
    Not enough staff during meal times to help so nurses are told to help with meals then do the medicine, this can take a long time with taking out meals and feeding so the medicine gets out too late or too early.
    Some wards the nurses are told to do the 18:00hrs medicine at 16:30hrs so they can be free when the food trolley comes, then free to work with a carer for patients who requires two.
    Nurses don't get time for documentation so they do it on their own time.
    Carers get work on the Bank, coming with sometimes one month's or less experience from a nursing home, some without assessment from anywhere. They get unto the wards without any assessments or induction. All they get is one day general staff induction in a class room.
    I feel that the CQC inspectors should look into all avenues in this hospital, and stay untill all areas have improved to safe standards for patients and the trust shows their responsibility of care to the staff ensuring good and fair ward management .

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  • tinkerbell

    Anonymous | 23-Feb-2013 3:24 pm
    don't they understand the GP diagnosis on a sick certificate? It's what it says on the tin. How much more elaboration do they want?

    Obviously this is just what they call so called 'robust managment' which is another word for 'intimidation'.

    Those who are genuinely sick are lumped in with those who are scivers.

    Double standards rule when it comes to staff on the frontline and so called managers, it's all just a big, dangerous game they are playing with patients and staff just pawns in the game.

    They are not held to account for what they do at all. If none of them ever show up, for whatever reason, no one bats an eyelid, and nobody notices either, because i for one would like to know what it is they are all supposed to be doing and have a look at their job description to boot, with some kind of tracker device attached to them so we can do a time and motion study.

    There are far too many managers, layers upon layers of them do sweet fanny adam and as in the bbc scandal a lot of 'faffing about' going on.

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  • anon 3.24 - do you work at this trust?

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  • working as a professional nurse and adult in the NHS sounds just like being treated as a school kid or being in the military service. I don't know how and why anybody puts up with it.

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  • if this trust is so bad with the working conditions etc...where are the unions in all this

    i work in a hospital in yorkshire with great union reps and we dont put up with this shit

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  • Did it take the CQC to work that one out, it's hardly rocket science!

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  • Anonymous | 23-Feb-2013 7:34 pm

    Basically, because they are too scared to do anything about it.

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  • A little history of the South West showed the Tolpuddle Martyrs, agricultural labourers were convicted and sent to Australia as they tried for better working conditions. This culture of intimidation still persist in the South West.
    Every year the unions meet in Tolpuddle to remember these Martyrs who were only fighting for better working conditions.

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  • Anonymous | 24-Feb-2013 12:10 pm

    Unfortunately, it is now merely symbolic. The unions today have no teeth. Whilst intimidation by employers persists, the courage to stand up to it has evaporated.

    In fact, being transported out of this country would now be seen very much as a positive!

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  • How professional of Higher management and HR to wait until patients are dying from want of sufficient care before employing more staff...

    Why are these people still in post?

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