The families of two teenage cancer patients have warned sick children’s lives could be put at risk because of a lack of nurses in a Leeds hospital.
David Pettit, whose 17-year-old son Harvey is in Leeds General Infirmary, told hospital heads the situation on the teenage cancer ward is “totally unacceptable”.
He said: “We have seen staff working to almost breaking point, highly trained, skilled and motivated people, dreading coming onto shift. One night we experienced a nurse refusing to start shift until more cover was in place.
“These are amazingly dedicated individuals that are being put under levels of pressure that is driving them to sickness and even consider leaving the profession. Children’s lives are potentially being put at risk.”
Last month the YEP reported that Leeds hospitals staff told a watchdog that a lack of workers meant they couldn’t care for patients properly.
Harvey Pettit, from Malton in North Yorkshire, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in 1998 and underwent three-and-a-half years of treatment. He became ill again in July this year and has been undergoing intensive chemotherapy at LGI.
Following his son’s latest stays, Mr Pettit was so concerned about staffing that he wrote a letter of complaint.
The 45-year-old said levels of nursing staff were often “totally inadequate”.
The dad-of-three added that up to three beds could sometimes not be used as there were not enough staff to cover them.
Will Willey, whose son Matthew is being treated for bone cancer, was told the same when he asked why the beds were not being used.
Mr Willey, from Barwick-in-Elmet, Leeds, said: “I think it’s absolutely disgusting. They get bank staff in but our kids on these wards need oncology nurses.”
However, a spokesman for Leeds Teaching Hospitals said though there were 28 beds across the unit which incorporates children’s and teenage cancer wards, they were funded to care for 25 patients and the extra beds were designed to allow flexibility.
He admitted that there had been vacant roles for nurses and clinical support workers over the summer but said the jobs had now been filled, with one nurse already working and another two starting in January. Four clinical support workers are also being taken on.
“Where bank staff are used to provide cover in the meantime, these are appropriately trained to deliver the necessary care,” he added.
“We are looking further into a specific incident Mr Pettit referred to in his letter and the matron is closely liaising with the charge nurse and team to understand any other concerns. We can reassure him that staffing levels on Ward 78 are discussed on a daily basis, including planning for the weekend, and the safety of our young cancer patients is our top priority.”