An ongoing shortage of mental health nurses at an NHS trust in York has delayed the re-opening of one of its wards, which has been closed since the end of last year.
Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust had planned to end the temporary closure of its 13-bed low secure forensic ward for men in April.
“The aim to re-open in April was always based on us having sufficient numbers of registered nurses in place”
Westerdale Ward, one of four inpatient wards at Clifton House in York, was shut at the start of December due to a significant shortfall of registered nurses.
This was decided following conversations with NHS England about the potential risk to patient safety. At the time, across all low secure wards at the trust, there were 35% – or 15.8 – of registered nurse posts vacant, a trust spokesman told Nursing Times.
All staff from the ward were relocated within the service or to other areas and it was hoped it would reopen in April 2017 following a skill mix review and recruitment campaign, according to trust board papers from February.
However, in a statement provided to Nursing Times today, the organisation’s chief executive said the organisation had failed to attract enough mental health nurses in order to reopen the ward next month.
“We will continue to advertise for qualified registered mental health nurses and for new registered mental health practitioner roles”
“The aim to re-open in April was always based on us having sufficient numbers of registered nurses in place – something we are continuing to pursue,” said Sara Munro, chief executive of Leeds and York Partnership.
“There is a widely-recognised shortage of qualified mental health nurses across the country and we’ve found it hard to attract people despite our campaign and range of incentives,” she said.
“We will continue to advertise for qualified registered mental health nurses and for new registered mental health practitioner roles, which have proven very popular so far,” said Ms Munro.
She added: “The new mental health practitioner roles have been developed based on a review of the specific needs of the service and its patients. They are an exciting new development but are not a replacement for maintaining the appropriate number of registered nurses required to deliver safe and effective care.”