Nursing staff shortage leaves hospitals critical

NURSES at Dewsbury & District Hospital have been struggling to provide adequate care for patients.

Staff at hospitals run by the Mid-Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust have been stretched to their limits in recent months, with dozens of occasions reported when they were unable to provide one-to-one care.

Almost 200 instances were reported at Mid-Yorkshire, which as well as Dewsbury runs Pinderfields and Pontefract Hospitals, according to the organisation’s latest staffing report which covers the month of January.

The incidents were among “red flag” safety events that hospital staff are required to record.

The report said: “A red flag is an event that leads to a patient missing care or sustaining harm (i.e. falls) and may indicate staff are unable to deliver the required care to patients.”

In January there were more than 280 nursing vacancies at the trust – the equivalent of 115 full-time nurses, 96 healthcare assistants and 33 safety support workers.

The shortages meant 23 wards at the trust reported being staffed at below 80 per cent of the planned level during day shifts throughout the month.

The trust said 57 new nurses were due to start in September.

Director of nursing David Melia said: “Whilst we have seen an improved situation for attracting registered nurses to the trust over the last year, we are experiencing the same challenges as other organisations with a national shortage of available staff.

“This is being compounded by a dramatic decrease in the number of EU nurses applying for posts.”

The report follows the news that Dewsbury Hospital will keep around 100 more beds than was originally planned under a shake-up of services.

The A&E department at Dewsbury is set to be downgraded to an urgent care unit later this year, with emergency care centralised at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield.

However, as reported in The Press, the A&E department at Dewsbury has been stretched almost to breaking point in the past few months.

A report to the Wakefield Health and Wellbeing Board said: “Demand and occupancy rates have consistently been higher than predicted in our original planning.

“It is acknowledged that, whilst work to develop enhanced services outside hospital settings is continuing, at the point when the changes happen the number of hospital beds that are needed is unlikely to be significantly reduced. Plans are being developed, therefore to retain about 100 more beds at Dewsbury than in the original plan.”

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