NHS survey raises fears over staffing

Patients said not enough nurses were on duty.
Patients said not enough nurses were on duty.

Patients rated the district’s hospitals as among the worst in the country for having enough nurses on duty in a national survey.

Staffing levels and long waits for beds have been criticised at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust, which has been struggling with an NHS-wide recruitment crisis.

Mid Yorkshire, which runs, Pontefract, Pinderfields and Dewsbury hospitals, also scored worse than other NHS trusts for providing patients with information on taking medications after discharge.

But the organisation was “about the same” in most parts of the Care Quality Commission’s NHS In-Patient Survey when scored against other trusts.

Acting chief nurse David Melia said more nurses had been recruited and improvements made on medication information.

He said: “It’s true to say we still have vacancies for registered nurses but much less so than in our recent past.

“Across medicine and surgery inpatient services in January 2016 there were 123 whole-time posts vacant.

“By the end of April this had reduced to around 47 posts.”

The trust had also opened more family support rooms and made it easier for patients to give feedback on their care.

Mr Melia said: “We have also introduced more patient information display screens across our sites, a Macmillan cancer information pod at Pinderfields Hospital and we have recently introduced a ward befriending scheme for patients who rarely receive visitors whilst in hospital.

“We have further plans to improve the information available to our patients about their medication, and to introduce an Age UK information hub, as well as providing bedside information folders for patients.

“We have also made plans to further improve our pain assessment process, to improve overnight accommodation for relatives and to also provide additional adult toilet changing facilities.”

Mid Yorkshire is around £20m in deficit and must make savings of around £26m this year.

Most NHS trusts are in the red after huge cost savings imposed on them by the government proved unachievable.

Latest figures show the combined deficit among hospitals in England has reached £2.3bn, the highest in NHS history.

Mid Yorkshire’s finances deteriorated further after a massive overspend on temporary doctors and nurses, caused by a national recruitment crisis.

The organisation must cut millions of pounds from its bill for agency staff this year.

The trust is also under pressure to meet targets to see patients within in four hours of them arriving at A&E.

Hospitals are supposed to admit, transfer or discharge 95 per cent of patients within four hours.

But Mid Yorkshire only managed 88.4 per cent in April, latest figures show.