A hospital in financial difficulties has invested £3.2m in nursing to turn its fortunes around.
Barking, Havering and Redbridge Hospitals Trust had overspent by £18.2m by the end of September.
Documents obtained by Nursing Times’ sister magazine Health Service Journal show the trust was given the £3.2m earlier this year by the strategic health authority.
The trust has spent the cash on employing 32 extra nurses and 31 healthcare assistants, as well as on additional therapists to run two acute elderly units.
It hopes the new units will take the pressure off other wards and eventually allow it to close seven of them to save money.
The trust estimated that, up to the end of September, it had admitted 71,400 more patients than expected. It had also struggled with a high rate of delayed transfers of care, which particularly affects older patients.
A spokeswoman for the trust said: “The extra nursing staff are to act as ‘pump primers’, to produce a step change in the quality of care, help patients recover to return home more quickly and, through this, free resources tied up with agency staff and wards that would not be needed.”
The trust said that, since the new units had opened, the average length of stay for older patients had reduced by two days, the number of falls in hospital had halved and pressure ulcer rates had decreased by 30 per cent.
So far, the trust has only shut one of the seven wards earmarked for closure.