Hospitals struggle to hit staffing levels on wards

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WIGAN Infirmary bosses have said patient safety has not been put at risk by nurse staffing levels amid national concerns.

Nine out of 10 hospitals across the country are struggling to meet their targets, a report has said.

But Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh (WWL) deputy director of nursing Pauline Law said their wards “are safe with staffing numbers managed and reviewed on a continuous basis.”

Analysis by the Health Service Journal (HSJ) of 232 hospitals in England found that 207, or 90 per cent, were unable to meet safe levels during the day, while 81 per cent could not hit targets for night cover and some 79 per cent missed both quotas.

It marks a decline since January this year, when 85 per cent of hospitals were short-staffed during the day.

Ms Law said: “The Trust fully realises the high impact that safe nurse staffing numbers has on patient safety and the quality of patient care and experience. We openly and transparently display our nursing staff numbers in the entrances to all our wards.

“Any potential nursing staff shortages on each shift are filled by either the use of agency nurses or by moving staff between wards to provide the best cover possible. I’m pleased to say that we have had no reports of nurse staffing levels negatively impacting on patient safety.

“We are very aware that nurse recruitment is a challenge due to national shortages. We currently have high emphasis on nurse retention and recruitment and we have successfully recruited staff from both the UK and overseas.”

The HSJ’s findings, based on August figures published by hospitals each month under measures introduced following the Mid Staffs inquiry, come as the NHS faces increasing pressure.

Earlier this month the health service missed a raft of key targets for A&E waiting times, cancer treatment and ambulance responses, leading experts to warn the NHS will struggle to cope with the busy winter period

Royal College of Nursing chief executive Janet Davies said the pressures on numbers meant nurses were being overworked and unable to provide the care they wanted to. “Our nurses are telling us that they are really exhausted,” she said.