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Nurse recruitment problems spark ‘urgent’ Mid Staffs safety review


The Care Quality Commission is to undertake an “urgent review” of safety at Stafford Hospital, after warnings that services are at risk due to problems recruiting and retaining nursing staff.

The CQC agreed to hold the review following a request for assistance from the trust special administrators (TSAs) who are currently running Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust.

In a statement the trust special administrators said: “The fragility of the trust’s services, due to staff recruitment and retention, has been a constant and well documented issue which first emerged prior to the appointment of the TSAs.

“Since the start of the TSA process in April 2013, the TSAs have been working with [healthcare regulator] Monitor and local providers to address the issue. However it has now become a significant challenge.

“In such circumstances it is good NHS practice to ensure that all other relevant bodies, such as the CQC, are informed appropriately of any such issues which may affect the provision of safe patient services.”

“The fragility of the trust’s services, due to staff recruitment and retention, has been a constant and well documented issue”

TSA statement

The administrators said they expected the CQC to conduct a focused inspection and report findings “as soon as is possible”, so they could act accordingly to ensure patient safety.

In a statement, the CQC’s chief inspector of hospitals Sir Mike Richards said the regulator had been approached about the review by a group of relevant organisations including the TSAs. These include Monitor, the NHS Trust Development Authority and University Hospitals North Staffordshire Trust.

Sir Mike Richards

Sir Mike Richards

He said the regulator was currently planning the inspection and recruiting appropriate specialist advisers.

A spokesman for Monitor said: “The safety of patients is the absolute priority and we support the TSAs’ decision to ask the CQC to carry out an inspection.”

In February it was revealed that Mid Staffordshire was considering further restrictions to accident and emergency opening hours at Stafford Hospital due to a shortage of nurses.

Trust chief executive Maggie Oldham said at the time that the trust did not have enough experienced nurses because of the “reputation of Mid Staffs” and “uncertainty about the future”.

The trust is due to be dissolved by the end of 2014, with its services transferred to either University Hospitals of North Staffordshire Trust or Royal Wolverhampton Hospital Trust.


Readers' comments (11)

  • I think you'll be facing concerns that many facilities have, but are unaware or don't care. I I wish you the best with this important investigation. We have to take care of nursing and support staff so they can take care of others. I bet you'd get a lot of information from one-to-one interviews with nurses who have left and those still there. Employ a 'Whole Systems' approach to changing the culture. Maybe one unit at a time? Time consuming, but very effective.


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  • The results of yet another CQC inspection are entirely predictable, and will do nothing whatever to help the situation. The current very able but beleaguered management at Midd Staffs need support, not more futile inspection. The money about to be spent on inspectors, their hotels, their travel and other expenses might be better used on recruitment and retention premiums for nurses at the hospital.

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  • I think you will find that this is not just Mid Staffs facing recruitment challenges. Its across the country, acute and community. something needs to be done to address the root cause which to me seems to be a shortage of nurses. Its good that Mid Staffs can say "reputation of Mid Staffs” and “uncertainty about the future” are the main reasons for not being able to recruit and retain staff. I dont think that is the problem, i think the problem is a shortage of nurses in general. Most trusts are considering or going abroad to recruit.

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  • I agree with others this is a problem across the Country but probably worse at Stafford, partly because of it's unfortunate history and also because of uncertainty about it's future.

    I spent 10 happy years working at Stafford Hospital in my much younger days, I wish them all the very best.

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  • who in their right mind would be a nurse? day in day out the media undermine us, so do mps

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  • Young willing and able nurses are passing their degree's but then being told that they cannot be employed because they don't have the post degree experience. Where are they going to get it if hospitals are not willing to take them on. I am a student nurse and the hospital I am working at has just flown a plane load of Spanish nurses over here to work. Complete madness.

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  • There will bw lot more safety issues in NHS hospitals in future as we've got loads of Portugese and Spanish nurses, who can't speak English being recruited due to shortage of nurses. Nurses from other countries, even from Australia and NZ have to do IELTS and show the NMC their fluency in English. But EU nurses do not have to do it. I work in a leading cardiac hospital in London, where there are so many newly recruited spanish nurses whose English knowledge is zero. NHS spend money teaching them English, when there is a £ 5 billion gap in the budget for the next financial year. Wait for some more people to sue NHS....

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  • I believe the shift patterns nurses have to work i.e days, nights, evening sometimes all in the same week is causing havoc with family life as nurses struggle to balance childcare with their work life and are forced to leave or find a post that has a set shift pattern , so they can work either all days, evenings or nights.

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  • It all went wrong when project 2000 was started. A degree just because we had to be in line with the EU. Lets go back to learning on the job like many other professions have. Then we will have the right calibre of nurses who care for patients and not computers.

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  • Well done, they went round dragging that Trust's name through the mud and the media and now they have created a bigger problem.... surprise surprise nobody wants to work there, why would we its laughable ! Lets hire some more expensive "advisers" to tell us how to fix the problem, how about treating nurses with a bit of respect, listing to what we have to say and paying us what we are worth !

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  • yesterday there was a headline in the Telegraph, of which I don't have the details, which read a degree does not get you a job.

    whilst, I am all for higher education, I wonder whether there is also some truth in it. I still believe it is the best way forward for nurses, or members of any profession, to have a degree or two but all of the practical and the soft skills so important in jobs dealing with other people are essential and both should be demanded to high standards in order to earn a qualification and licence to practice.

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