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Stafford Hospital Staffing Levels 'Only Just Safe'

An Inspection Into Operations At Stafford Hospital Found Staffing Levels Are Only Just Adequate


Scandal has surrounded goings-on at Stafford Hospital in recent years and while operations there have improved significantly, a new inspection has revealed staffing levels at the facility are only just safe.

The Press Association reports that the Care Quality Commission carried this investigation out during June and July, with Professor Sir Mike Richards, England's chief inspector of hospitals, leading the proceedings.

He was appointed to assess whether or not standards and clinical services at Stafford and Cannock Chase hospitals were both safe and sustainable, finding that the reputation the Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust has been tarnished with over the past few years may still be hindering its progress.

This was particularly found to be the case with regard to the recruitment and retention of nurses and other members of staff.

Although some examples of high-quality care being delivered were identified during the inspection, it was found that staff were worried and fatigued regarding the future of their jobs due to the public image the Trust has gained.

However, in the majority of cases they were seen to be caring and committed to their roles.

Sir Mike has sent the findings of his report to government healthcare body Minor, the Trust Development Authority and the Trust Special Administrators.

He explained: "I reported that senior managers at the Trust, including the chief executive, were spending inordinate amounts of time ensuring individual nursing shifts were adequately filled and that sufficient numbers of medical staff were available for different services.

"They had just been able to do this, but I would emphasise the word just."

Sir Mike added staffing levels were often only just adequate on several medical wards.

Next month, the hospitals currently managed by the Mid-Staffordshire Trust are to be transferred to new providers in a bid to improve their reputation further. Stafford Hospital will move under the umbrella of the University Hospitals of North Staffordshire NHS Trust, while Cannock Chase Hospital will be managed by the Royal Wolverhampton Hospital NHS Trust.

Expert Opinion
Patient care should always be a top priority for the NHS, which means ensuring enough staff are present to offer the best possible standard of care. The findings of this inspection are very troubling as staffing levels are currently at a minimum standard, which is leading to medical staff being overstretched. It is vital more is done to increase staffing levels across the facilities operated by the Trust to ensure the conditions that can lead to mistakes being made are prevented.

“In our work we have seen the impact mistakes by overworked and overstretched staff can have on patients. It is vital the Trust works with the CQC to improve standards across the board and reassure patients that everything is being done, where required, to improve care.”
Mandy Luckman, Partner

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