Beds closed at Leeds hospitals and transplants cancelled due to nurse shortage

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Eight critical care beds at Leeds hospitals have been closed and two liver transplants cancelled due to a shortage of specialist nurses.

Hospital bosses have admitted that two patients were told their planned surgery could not take place because of a lack of beds.

One ward at St James’s Hospital with six critical care beds has been closed, while a four-bedded high dependency unit at Leeds General Infirmary has also been shut but two beds re-provided on a neighbouring ward.

Suzanne Hinchliffe, deputy chief executive and chief nurse at Leeds Teaching Hospitals, said: “We have recently consolidated our critical care beds across both LGI and St James’s in response to ongoing difficulties in recruiting sufficient intensive care nurses.”

She said the temporary measure was a planned response and 66 critical care beds were still available in total.

“In two instances we have had to tell patients brought into the hospital expecting a liver transplant that their procedure could not take place because of a lack of an ICU bed. We sincerely regret this was necessary but it was the right thing to do in the interests of patient safety,” she added.

Ms Hinchliffe added that donor organs had not been lost due to the cancellations. Another six organs offered to Leeds Teaching Hospitals for transplants were refused.

Hospitals in the city are seeing an influx of patients, which had affected bed availability. She added that there was a nationwide shortage of intensive care nurses but 44 had been appointed in Leeds and would start soon.

The trust continues to breach a Government-imposed cap on how much NHS trusts can spend on agency staff in order to provide safe staffing levels.

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