Union chiefs in Blackpool have today raised concerns over what they claim is a low number of nursing staff at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.
It comes as a national survey shows nurses and midwives believe they do not have enough time to spend with patients, which in turn is affecting their care.
Despite a £1.5m investment in nursing staff at The Vic last year – following the Keogh Review into high mortality rates at the hospital – and the promise of further investment this year, bosses at the Unison union are worried about cuts in nursing staff since 2010.
The concerns echo those of inspectors for the Care Quality Commission, which said staffing levels must improve following their inspection earlier this year in which the hospital was rated overall as “requires improvement”.
Dion Baugh, Unison’s regional organiser, said: “We are concerned about the level of staffing at Blackpool Victoria Hospital. There have been significant cuts in nursing staff since 2010 which have been identified as a risk to patient care.
“Staff are already working to capacity but are fully committed to patients and to building on the progress made since the Keogh Review.”
Unison carried out its third staffing levels survey, Running On Empty, with 3,000 nurses on March 4 – an ordinary working day across NHS trusts.
Of those questioned, 66 per cent said that they did not have enough time with patients.
Unison is calling for national minimum nurse or midwife-to-patient ratios to be set.
The union’s head of nursing, Gail Adams, said: “It’s clear that despite nurses working through breaks and beyond their hours they simply do not have enough time to give patients the care and attention they need. That is distressing for patients.”
The union concerns come after an inspection report compiled by watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC) released earlier this month raised concerns around staffing issues in some areas, including in the maternity ward, where inspectors were told as part of their investigation that staff numbers were “dire” at times.
The report said there was “evidence of shortages of staff at various times in departments within maternity” .
One staff member told inspectors“ There are not enough staff. We work well as a team but we rely on the goodwill of colleagues.”
The report found “distribution of staff, staffing levels and the organisation of staff were at times less than adequate.”
In addition, it said there were “not enough appropriately trained nurses to meet patients’ specialist needs in the surgical assessment unit and ward 15A, mainly due to staff sickness levels.”