Patient care could suffer at Weston Hospital as nurses in short supply

PUBLISHED: 07:00 13 October 2017

The nurse shortage has meant the hospital has had to pull in more agency nurses.

The nurse shortage has meant the hospital has had to pull in more agency nurses.

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'Fundamental' nurses are in short supply as Weston Hospital battles to fill vacancies.

The hospital, in Grange Road, has 302 registered nurses on staff and has only recently been able to reduce its number of nursing vacancies by hiring 26 new registered nurses through a £700,000 investment – but that still leaves 17 spaces unfilled.

Christine Perry, aged 56, is a representative from the Royal College of Nursing which supports nurses in Weston-super-Mare, and she worked at the hospital from 2012-15 as its nursing director.

Ms Perry – who spoke highly of her time at Weston’s hospital and its ‘overwhelmingly dedicated’ staff – said the Government must do more to solve the shortage.

She said: “I think we have got to the stage where the NHS is in the worst state I have seen it in my 40-year career and we are now seeing patient care suffer because of it.

“I was on call in Weston when I had just worked a full 12-hour day, had been home for a couple of hours and was called back in for another six hours to help.

“Nurses know they are going to have bad shifts but now the bad shifts seem to outweigh the good ones.”

MORE: Weston General Hospital has been looking to Portugal and Spain for nurses.

She blamed the removal of the NHS bursary – which used to provide student nurses with up to £5,500 a year to pay for accommodation and paid for their tuition fees – and the stress placed on student nurses for the shortage.

The hospital’s current director of nursing, Helen Richardson, said: “There are well known national recruitment challenges in many NHS trusts across the country due to a national shortage of nurses.

“Nurses are fundamental to the provision of good patient care and experience. The nursing staff work very hard and often go above and beyond to meet their patients’ needs.”

MORE: Weston General spent £4.5million on agency nurses.

Ms Richardson said the hospital’s senior nursing team reviews staff levels daily and gives nurses the option to work additional shifts.

The hospital also uses temporary staff to support the teams – but spent £4.5million on agency nurses last year.

The average hospital ward made up of 28 beds has four registered nurses and at least four healthcare workers, who are all led by the sister in charge.

But specialist wards, like intensive care, require one nurse per patient.

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