Mental health hospital in Blackpool holds on-the-spot interviews for nurses amid 'significant challenge' to maintain safe staffing levels

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Nurses and nursing students are being offered on-the-spot interviews - and £3,000 - at Lancashire's mental health trust.

Two sessions are being held at The Harbour psychiatric hospital in Preston New Road, Marton, on Friday, with NHS hopefuls being told they can "come along and have an interview on the day".

Registered band five staff nurses, and students in their second and third year, have also been told to check if they are eligible for a four-figure "relocation package".

But those who land a job will have to pay for their own criminal record check at a cost of £46, which will "taken from the first three months' salary".

It comes after bosses at the Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust - formerly Lancashire Care - revealed in documents there had been "significant challenges to maintain safe staffing levels in some of the acute areas" in recent months.

A report by the deputy director of nursing and quality Julie Seed said patients were even denied leave eight times in October because "staff could not be released" to watch them.

The Harbour mental health hospital in Preston New Road, Marton (Picture: JPIMedia)

The Harbour mental health hospital in Preston New Road, Marton (Picture: JPIMedia)

She said the shortage of staff was being seen nationally but said: "Despite these challenges, ward managers and clinical teams have maintained safer staffing levels."

Maria Nelligan, the trust's director of nursing, said bringing in new faces is a key priority and urged "as many people as possible to come along" to the first of "many" recruitment events.

She said: "We are committed to recruiting and retaining the best possible staff to care for our patients."

The Harbour has been hit by a raft of controversies since opening as the trust's flagship facility in March 2015, including a crippling staff shortage, which led to the temporary closure of the unit's intensive care Byron ward just months later.

The health industry regulator Care Quality Commission (CQC) raised concerns about staffing levels in November 2015 before, two years later, bosses insisted staffing levels were "a priority" after a worker told The Gazette medics were being asked to man an assessment at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, leaving The Harbour "short staffed".

In August 2018, resort coroner Alan Wilson warned more people would die if "struggling" mental health services did not get help to cope with the huge level of demand they are facing, while two months later town councillors said a lack of staff, beds, and cash and left services in Lancashire "in chaos".

The same month, senior figures at the trust were sent an anonymous letter voicing "concerns" about staffing.

And last March, fresh fears of a staffing "crisis" were sparked by an attack on a nurse by a patient, who targeted her with a boiling water and sugar mixture - known behind bars as 'napalm' because it sticks to the skin and intensifies burns.

A whistleblower told The Gazette a lack of staff was putting people in danger, though bosses at the facility said there had been a "significant reduction in violence compared" to 2018.

Those attending the two sessions on Friday - from 9.30am to 12.30pm and 1-4pm - will get the chance to meet staff and tour The Harbour, which cares for some of the most seriously ill mental health patients in the region.

Staff manning stalls will tell visitors what it's like to work there, and those who submit their applications online will be able to interview for one of "several posts on offer" in wards across the hospital, including psychiatric intensive care, dementia, and acute admissions.

They would be paid between £24,214 and £30,112 and would be able to work long days, short shifts, or a combination of both.

For more information, email or call (01772) 520200.