Nursing union’s concern at staffing shortages on wards

Jake Turnbull.

Jake Turnbull.

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A nursing union says it has concerns at hospital staffing shortages raised in an official inspection of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.

Shortages on some wards were one of the key areas for improvement highlighted by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) following its inspection of the trust’s services last July.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) union said it was pleased the inspectors recognised frontline trust staff for going the extra mile.

But RCN spokesman Jake Turnbull said: “However, we remain concerned that staffing shortages remain a problem in some areas.

“It is disappointing that only last week, Monitor issued guidance to all Foundation Trusts, instructing them to reduce staffing in order to balance the books.

“Let’s be clear: patients suffer when you don’t have the right number of nurses and health care assistants in place.”

Mr Turnbull said minimum staffing levels were given priority three years ago by the government in response to a scandal at Mid Staffs hospital.

“It now seems that balancing the books is more important,” he added. “The CQC have made it clear that staff are delivering the best they can with the resources they have.

“But there are a number of specific concerns around urgent and emergency services, medical and maternity care that need to be addressed.

“The first priority has to be the right number of clinical staff, with the right levels of experience in place at all times.”