STAFFORD Hospital is to bridge a gap between staffing supply and patient demand by drafting in nurses from Stoke and using beds in Wolverhampton.
The measures, approved by Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust’s Special Administrator (TSA) Board, mean A&E opening hours will not need to be reduced further and the number of available beds will not be cut for now.
On Monday 20 experienced nurses will arrive from University Hospital of North Staffordshire, starting work on Stafford Hospital’s wards from Tuesday. South of the town the Royal Wolverhampton Trust, which runs New Cross Hospital, has made 15 beds available for patients from the Stafford area.
But elective (non-emergency) surgery remains suspended at Stafford Hospital – a situation described as “undesirable” by NHS executive Alan Yates, who presented the proposals to the board.
Elective surgery was halted at Stafford and Cannock hospitals in December 2013, but 75 per cent of procedures have now resumed in Cannock, the meeting heard.
The latest measures are in response to a shortage of experienced senior nursing staff at Stafford and Cannock hospitals, and continuing challenges to recruit and retain nursing staff.
This afternoon’s extraordinary meeting of the TSA Board, held at the hospital’s Post Graduate Centre, was called so that administrators could review with the trust’s directors what progress had been made towards finding solutions for the staffing shortage.
More than 30 hospital staff and members of the public, including Support Stafford Hospital members, also attended to hear the proposals.
The meeting heard that Stafford Hospital had initially requested 12 nurses from UHNS, but 20 had volunteered.
Deputy chief executive Jeff Crawshaw said: “We are not paying any incentives for UNHS to come here. They will be on the same terms and conditions our staff enjoy.”
Speaking after the meeting chief executive Maggie Oldham said: “We were delighted to be able to report that the University Hospital of North Staffordshire NHS Trust (UHNS) will be supplying us with 20 experienced nurses for the next three months. These nurses will attend our Trust induction on Monday and will start working on the wards at Stafford from Tuesday.
“UHNS are continuing to work with us to see what further nursing support they can give. We are very grateful to Liz Rix, Chief Nurse at UHNS, for arranging for these nurses to be available to work here and we look forward to welcoming the nurses onto our wards.
“We are also very pleased to announce that The Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals NHS Trust (RWT) is opening an extra 15 bedded ward at their hospital to accommodate emergency patients from south Staffordshire.
“We would like to thank very sincerely our colleagues at both Stoke and Wolverhampton and the other local Trusts, who are supporting us in so many different ways.
“With this additional support and the initiatives which we and our local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) already have underway, we will not need to restrict the opening hours of Stafford A&E department for the time being. We are extremely grateful to the CCGs for their great commitment to helping us find a solution to our challenges.
“As always, our main priority is to provide safe care for our patients and we will continue to review staffing levels on a daily basis, including monitoring closely the number of nursing staff leaving the organisation.
“We will be updating the TSAs formally next at our regular monthly Senior Management Board on Thursday, March 6.”