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Leeds hospital wards hit by shortage of nurses

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Shortages of nurses are affecting care at Leeds hospitals, a new report shows.

Older people’s and medical wards, as well as some specialist wards, are among those facing “significant shortfalls”, hospital bosses have admitted.

Now they have agreed to invest £14m to ensure each ward has one nurse for every eight patients – or more in some areas.

Around £6m of that will be spent from April on the areas in urgent need.

The report by the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust chief nurse Suzanne Hinchliffe said: “The overall high level assessment is that the nurse staffing levels are not to the level required to provide quality care to the patients, and that investment is required in all Clinical Service Units.”

A lack of staff has affected hospitals in Leeds for several years – in 2011 health watchdog the Care Quality Commission found shortages at St James’s Hospital and the following year a formal warning was issued to Leeds General Infirmary over poor care and a lack of staff.

Since then inspectors have returned and not found any further staffing problems, but the new report says that a 2010 internal review found a deficit of the equivalent of over 70 registered nurses and 130 unregistered staff, which includes healthcare assistants.

However at that time the hospitals trust could not afford to invest £5m to make up the shortfall.

Now the new review has looked at nurse staffing on 69 adult in-patient wards.

“There are significant shortfalls in the medical and older people’s wards, and in a number of the specialist wards, with the skill mix in these areas being below the expected range for these more complex patients,” the report added.

Some wards have around 30 per cent fewer staff than they should.

The £6m initial funding will go on priority areas including where staffing affects the flow of patients or bed numbers, where staffing impacts on operations being cancelled and those most badly hit by understaffing.

After the meeting, Ms Hinchliffe said: “The trust has set out our plans to make a significant investment in additional nurse staffing which I am confident will help improve the experience of patients on wards across our hospitals.”

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