Hospital bosses have been accused of failing to take action over low staffing levels which led to an elderly ward being shut down because of poor standards of care.
Nursing union the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) says it raised fears over patient safety at Pinderfields Hospital two months before Gate 43 was temporarily closed last Friday.
Complaints about the 41-bed elderly medicine ward are also being investigated by the Care Quality Commission, the health watchdog confirmed today.
Mid Yorkshire said Gate 43 closed to admissions on March 31, and patients were being transferred to 30 new beds being opened at the hospital.
RCN officer Peta Clark said: “The RCN met with Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust back in February and we raised concerns around staffing levels and their potential impact on patient safety.
“At that time we were reassured that these issues would be addressed. So whilst we appreciate that this closure has been implemented in the interests of patient safety, we are nevertheless seriously concerned and disappointed that two months later issues around staffing levels have clearly still not been addressed.”
The RCN said it was also worried that patients were being transferred to unsuitable wards at the hospital, and that the ward closure would leave Pinderfields short of beds.
Ms Clark said: “We also have concerns around the suitability of the areas that patients are being moved to and the fact that it appears the trust will be down by eleven beds at a time when services are already under pressure.
“We know that the trust has plans to recruit from abroad and yet again we will be seeking reassurances that any new recruits will have the right level of knowledge and skills, together with adequate language skills in order to ensure patient safety.”
The CQC confirmed that it could take action against Mid Yorkshire over conditions for patients on Gate 43.
A CQC spokeswoman said: “We can confirm that we have received information of concern from more than one source about Gate 43.
“We are currently reviewing this information to ascertain if regulatory action is required.”
Last September the CQC issued Mid Yorkshire with a warning notice after inspectors found that elderly patients at suffered falls, pressure sores and infections because there were not enough nurses to care for them.
But a follow-up inspection by the CQC in November found that improvements had been made.
Gate 43 is now expected to be closed for up to eight weeks.
Announcing the ward closure on Friday, chief nurse Sally Napper said: “We have not taken this decision lightly but there are a number of issues affecting Gate 43. These include low staffing levels and the quality of care on some occasions has not met the standards we would expect.
“I would like to apologise to any patients and families who have experienced substandard care on this ward.”