COMMUNITY nurses have been drafted into key roles on hospital wards as pressure mounts due to winter weather.
District nurses and non-clinical staff who work in schools or in the community are being employed on wards to help full-time nurses cope with an increase in patients.
It is understood the nurses are working at the University Hospital of Hartlepool and the University Hospital of North Tees, both run by the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.
The Mail revealed last week that ‘bank’ nurses who would normally cover shifts as and when required have been hit with a pay cut, with the hourly rate of some dropping from around £20 to £14.
Despite sparking anger from nursing unions, hospital bosses say that factor has not had any impact on staffing levels as the change was only introduced earlier this month.
There are now a steady stream of patients from Hartlepool being treated in Stockton as a result of the trust’s controversial plan to centralise some services.
The trust insists it is not unusual to draft in staff from elsewhere, and said it was “grateful” for the help during the busy winter period.
Julie Gillon, deputy chief executive/chief operating officer for North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Just like the whole country is under pressure, so is the trust.
“We start our winter planning very early to make sure we can deal with a rise in demand and we work together to make sure we can look after our patients.
“Staff from different areas working on wards is part of our plan when demand increases.
“Colleagues are working hard to support each other and ensure our patients get the care they need.
“Many clinical and non-clinical staff have been helping on wards where there have been additional pressures and we are very grateful for this.
“I would like to pay tribute to our staff, both in our hospitals and in our community services, who, as always, are doing a fantastic job in very challenging circumstances.”
The trust admitted last week that three wards across the two hospital sites were unable to take any more patients with concerns over a sickness bug.