Dozens of new nurses hired at Vic

A nurse on a ward
A nurse on a ward
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HOSPITAL bosses have been forced to hire dozens of new nurses in a bid to avert a worrying staff shortage.

HOSPITAL bosses have been forced to hire dozens of new nurses in a bid to avert a worrying staff shortage.

At one stage Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust was forced to take on 70 staff in just one month – and has now pledged to continue to recruit up to eight nurses a month to prevent future problems.

The trust is now fully staffed – with an extra 100 nurses on its books – but patients who suffered on short-staffed wards claim the situation should never have been allowed to deteriorate so far.

The Gazette revealed in November that an investigation was launched after 80-year-old Frederick Westrop received “distressing” levels of care – including being left to lie in a urine-soaked bed – on Blackpool Victoria Hospital’s stroke ward, where hospital bosses said there were “short-term” staffing issues.

Mr Westrop’s daughter Sue Formby said her father was, at times, one of 31 patients looked after by just four staff

She added: “The fact something has been done is a positive step – maybe they’ve listened to all the complaints about staffing levels.

“I do feel they should have done something at the time because there was a major issue last year.

“Patients suffered because of staffing levels. It should never have got to that standard. It would have been nice if my dad hadn’t had to go through what he did.”

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A report to the trust’s directors said there was now a clear understanding “safe and effective staffing” is the “highest priority” but that subject to workforce supply both surgical and medical wards were expected to now avoid a repeat of last year’s staffing shortages.

The trust has 1,491 qualified nurses and 900 health care assistants. In January 68 nurses were recruited to its unscheduled care medical wards while 30 staff have been recruited to the scheduled care surgical wards.

Marie Thompson, the trust’s director of nursing and quality, said there was a rolling programme of recruitment to combat issues.

She added: “Part of our role in terms of clinical governance is to ensure we do have the right workforce to deliver the standards our patients expect.

“I don’t think we are dissimilar to our neighbouring trusts in terms of the pressures we have experienced and each year is a different, but we have a system in place to manage our workforce numbers.”

The Royal College of Nursing has criticised the trust for using agency staff to combat shortages.

Spokesman Paul Gardner said: “The recruitment of new staff is critical in tackling the hospital’s nursing shortage and ensure it can deliver high quality and safe patient care.

“But we are concerned that it’s had to use expensive agency staff to fill gaps until posts were filled.

“This solution wouldn’t have been necessary if the hospital hadn’t cut its own bank staff arrangements as a short-term cost saving measure.”

But Nick Grimshaw, the hospital’s director of HR, added: “While the recruitment process was taking place however, we suffered one of our busiest ever winter periods with a 15 per cent increase in emergency medical admissions and as part of our winter plan opened additional beds to cater for the increased patient activity.

“To assist our own nursing staff who worked additional shifts during this period we also employed a small number of qualified agency nurses for a short term period to support the wards.”

Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden said: “There will inevitably be concerns about nursing staff shortages last year but it’s to be hoped the trust is now confident it has the balance right for the forthcoming year.”

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