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Nurse recruitment problems lead to Manchester ward closure

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Nurse recruitment problems and an over-reliance on agency workers have led to a ward closure and redistribution of staff at a trust in Manchester.

Board papers from Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust reveal that a ward offering later life inpatient services at its North Manchester General Hospital has been shut following concerns about acuity mix and staffing capacity raised earlier this year.

All nurses from the ward have been moved to the trust’s Wythenshawe Hospital, which has two wards offering later life services.

This is “to ensure that safer staffing levels are in place and that the previous overreliance on agency staffing ceases”, stated the papers from a recent board meeting.

“The closure of Cedar, one of the later life wards, has mitigated the low fill rate risk on later life wards and high patient nurse ratios have been realised as anticipated,” they added.

“Overseas recruitment alongside our service transformation from hospital base to community means we can reduce our later life beds in favour of community provision”

Anita Rolfe

The ward closure means the trust’s later life service capacity has been reduced from 60 to 40 beds.

It said the closed ward was due to reopen this autumn, instead offering services for adults of a working age, “which will substantially assist with current bed pressures in Manchester”.

Anita Rolfe, chief nurse and director of quality assurance, said: “The board is committed to continuous service improvement, an element of which is to reduce the numbers of agency staff that we use.

“The trust has successfully recruited over 40 nurses, most of which commence with the trust later in the year,” she told Nursing Times.

“This, alongside our service transformation from hospital base to community means that we can reduce our later life beds in favour of community provision,” she added.

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Readers' comments (3)

  • If anyone had any doubts about the scale of challenge Jeremy Hunt has set the NHS by looking to reduce agency cost, this story illustrates the fact that there are too few nurses to fill all jobs and employers are struggling to recruit. Until we do something about the conditions that are encouraging nurses to take up retirement as soon as they can and start to work on increasing the number we create (rather than rely on working frantically to compete with other countries for international recruitment sources) this will be like trying to get water to flow uphill.

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  • "The NHS is safe in my hands"

    David Cameron.

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  • There are lots of trained nurses out there but not so many managers who allow nurses to nurse, especially in later life care. Even the imported nurses soon leave apparently.

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