Hospital ward hit by nursing shortage
Last updated at 11:41, Thursday, 05 July 2012
A UNION fears a 15-bed ward at West Cumberland Hospital could be closed because there are not enough nurses to staff it.
Hospital bosses have admitted that Pillar Ward had to temporarily close over half of its beds recently as a result of staff shortages but say there are no long-term plans to close it.
Christine Wharrier, Unison representative at the Whitehaven hospital, said many wards at the hospital are running on a skeleton staff and says it is close to breaking point.
“We are teetering on the edge at this hospital now and teetering on the edge of patient safety and the health and wellbeing of the staff,” she told The Whitehaven News.
Mrs Wharrier says there aren’t enough nurses to staff both Pillar and Patterdale Wards, which adjoin each other and are part of the emergency admissions unit. She claims Patterdale is over 100 nursing staff hours short of what it should be.
“Three weeks ago Pillar was closed for one night because of staff shortages and they used the nurses from there on Patterdale Ward,” said Mrs Wharrier. “Last week they tried to close it but they could not because there were too many patients coming through and there wasn’t enough beds.”
Unison fears the North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust – which runs the hospital – may look at closing the ward on a longer-term basis.
But a spokesman for the Trust said this week: “There are no long-term plans by the Trust to close Pillar Ward at West Cumberland Hospital. However, the ward has faced some staff shortages of late with staff leaving and some short and long-term sickness.
“Patient safety is the Trust’s number one priority so the decision was taken at that time to temporarily close eight of the 15 beds due to staffing shortages. In all ward areas the staffing is reviewed and assessed daily. The Trust has now successfully recruited to a number of posts across the Trust.”
Hospital bosses have been carrying out a nursing review for around the past two years, part of which is to work out how many nurses are needed on each ward at the Whitehaven hospital and also the Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle.
The Trust says it is progressing well and that “heads of nursing are reviewing their ward establishments”.
Mrs Wharrier added: “But while all this is going on, there are not enough staff, nurses are stressed and are going off sick, some are being asked to do double shifts and it is getting to breaking point.
“Patients can’t wait until managers have decided how many nurses are needed. Patients can’t be safely looked after if we don’t have the right number of staff – it is all to do with cost cutting.”
First published at 11:12, Thursday, 05 July 2012
Published by http://www.whitehavennews.co.uk
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