A specialist heart ward at a Leeds hospital is being closed because of a shortage of nurses.
The 22-bed cardiac ward for female patients at Leeds General Infirmary is being shut this week after bosses were unable to recruit enough staff.
The announcement comes following new national guidance on minimum staffing numbers for hospitals – and three months after Leeds hospital heads agreed to invest £14m to meet a shortfall in nurses.
Patients affected will be moved to other heart wards at the hospital and chiefs say they will review the closure when more workers are appointed in autumn.
Consultant cardiologist Dr Greg Reynolds, clinical director for cardiac services at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “Rather than providing care on the ward with insufficient qualified staff we have decided it would be best for our patients to close the ward to new admissions as a temporary measure from May 15.
“The situation will be reviewed once additional staff are in place and are fully trained. In the meantime we want to reassure patients that they can continue to expect the same high quality service and level of care from the cardiology team.”
Leeds General Infirmary, which is a leading provider of cardiac services, currently has six adult heart wards.
However Dr Reynolds said: “Despite a number of recruitment initiatives in place in recent months we have been unable to recruit sufficient qualified nurses to join our cardiology service at LGI.
“We have secured 15 newly qualified nurses to join the cardiology nursing establishment from September.
“In the interim we have put in place alternative arrangements to allow us to continue to provide care for patients which will come into effect over the summer. At this time of year there is a reduced demand for beds.”
He said that ward L17 was “relatively small” and the patients could be cared for within other specialist wards.
Karen Ledgard, head of nursing for cardiac services, added that there was space on other wards, three of which are mixed sex but meet national rules on the issue, which means men and women are housed in separate bed bays with single-sex bathrooms.
“Patients coming into the hospital for cardiology procedures stay for only a short period of time,” she added.
“We are also looking at using our overall number beds more efficiently, and have already started offering urgent and elective procedures on a Sunday rather than the traditional five-day model.”
The investment in Leeds will ensure at least one nurse for every eight patients.