West Yorkshire hospitals ‘worst for nursing levels’

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Hospitals in West Yorkshire have been rated as among the worst in the country by a national survey for not having enough nurses on duty.

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 Pinderfields, Pontefract 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.”

“These surveys help us identify areas where we are getting things right, but also help us prioritise where we need to do more.”

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, which is among NHS organisations facing government cuts to the health budget, 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 has been set a target to cut millions of pounds from its bill for agency staff this year.

Bosses have been trying to reduce the number of extra beds it had to open to cope with higher than expected admissions from patients with complex health problems.

Last week Martin Barkley, who took over as chief executive on May 1, said up to 120 “surge and escalation” beds had been open at the trust, but that had been reduced to around 55.

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.

That month more than 1,000 patients also waited more than four hours for a beds after a decision had been made to admit them.

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