Trust Leaders Warn Of Staff Shortages

Hospital A&E Units Have Been Understaffed For Five Years

10.03.2014

Leaders at the Calderdale and Huddersfield Foundation Trust (CHFT) have warned that the organisation cannot continue to run two accident and emergency (A&E) units with its current workforce.

Hospital chiefs also revealed they had only employed seven doctors to cover both departments over the past five years, despite the fact 12 were required, the Huddersfield Daily Examiner reports. Locum medical professionals were used to make up for the shortfall.
 
With new NHS England proposals forcing hospitals to offer 24-hour care, CHFT bosses are concerned that Calderdale Royal Hospital and Huddersfield Royal Infirmary (HRI) will be put under far too much pressure unless the workforce is increased.

They have also highlighted the downgrading of Dewsbury's A&E services as a potential problem, as this could lead to a near 30 per cent increase in admissions at Huddersfield's emergency unit.

At the moment, doctors are not on site after 10pm or at weekends, which means the hospitals would automatically contravene new guidelines that state GPs must be available 16 hours a day, seven days a week.

Hospital chiefs believe the HRI is the best place to maintain A&E services that comply with the NHS England rules.

These concerns were outlined in a report put together by the National Clinical Advisory Team, which has been leaked online.

Clinical lead for A&E at CHFT Dr Mark Davies was quoted as saying: "We always try as hard as we can to fill the vacancies when they occur but where we can't we have to use locums to ensure we can provide the safest service for our patients."

The huge amount of pressure being placed on A&E departments, as well as the ongoing staffing issues, have been well documented across the UK in recent months.

In February 2014, Barnet Hospital declared what the Daily Mail described as an "internal emergency" and was forced to turn away ambulances containing ill or injured patients because they did not have the resources to cope with demand.

Expert Opinion
Patient safety has to be paramount. Patients put their faith in medical professionals and trust that there are sufficient resources at the hospital to treat them and that careless mistakes will not be made due to increasing pressure on the facilities.

“It is hugely important that these concerns over standards are carefully considered and reviewed to ensure that they always meet an adequate level.

“We see recurring cases where problems have emerged as a result of hospitals not being able to cope with the level of demand due to staff shortages and substandard care, and the problems of the past simply cannot be allowed to be repeated.”
Lisa Jordan, Partner