Year starts with multiple warnings of staff shortages
Serious concerns over staffing levels and patient safety were raised last week at four hospitals in different parts of the country – with the new year less than 10 days old.
Source: Vincent Hazat / PhotoAlto
A report on Wexham Park Hospital said Care quality Commission inspectors found evidence of regular short staffing on “almost all wards” and a culture where “staff did not always feel they could raise concerns”.
The report, published on Wednesday, said Heatherwood and Wexham Park Hospitals Foundation Trust must make urgent improvements at the hospital in Slough.
Inspectors concluded the trust was more focused on “responding to… targets” than “ensuring that overall patient experiences were positive”.
Wexham Park Hospital
Despite a previous CQC warning in May, almost all the wards inspected were found to be regularly short staffed. Staff did not always feel they could raise concerns, with a number expressing concerns about bullying and harassment, the CQC said.
The trust said it had invested over £2m in new staff in the last 12 months and would “continue to actively recruit and use temporary staff where necessary”.
Bradford Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust was criticised in a separate CQC report on Wednesday for “unacceptable” staff shortages and examples of poor nursing care.
Autumn inspections found shortages across a number of wards and departments, particularly accident and emergency. When they reviewed the A&E duty rota for one four-week period they found “shortfalls in nursing staff every day”.
Chief nurse Juliette Greenwood said the trust was making a huge effort to address staffing issues. When CQC inspectors visited there were 118 vacant posts, but the trust had since recruited 58 nurses and A&E was now “fully recruited”, she said.
Also on Wednesday, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust declared a “major incident” at its Royal Victoria Hospital due to a backlog of A&E patients. At one stage, 42 people were waiting on trolleys.
Hospital porter Pat Neeson told the BBC he was “fed up watching our nurses cry” as a result of longstanding A&E pressures.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, an internal report revealed significant safety concerns in theatres at Alder Hey Children’s Foundation Trust.
Written by director of nursing Gill Core, the report highlighted safety issues resulting from a “high pressure, time constrained environment” that had existed for a “significant period of time”.
It said: “Theatre staff are constantly changing duties, covering theatres they have limited expertise in and frequently working beyond duty times, often in lengthy list overruns.”
The trust said it had reorganised staffing and promoted incident reporting since the report was written in December.
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