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Staff shortages at Winchester hospital, inspection finds
An inspection by the Care Quality Commission found there were “not always enough qualified, skilled and experienced staff to meet patients’ needs” in wards.
But all three CQC care and cleanliness standards were met during the inspection in January.
In the report, the inspector said: “We were told by ward leads that if fewer staff were on duty than expected, and this was considered a risk to patient safety, they would raise this as an incident.
“This hospital had 110 reported staffing incidents between September 1, 2012, and December 31, 2012.
“The overall level of staffing incidents at this hospital was significantly higher than for the trust’s other hospitals, and had been a subject for debate by the clinical quality and safety committee in October 2012.”
But only 20 per cent of the incidents were found to have risked harm to patients through delays in providing medication and basic care.
The inspector added: “When we spoke with staff on the different wards we visited, most said that the staffing levels were adequate to meet patients’ general needs. We were told, however, that staff sickness was sometimes difficult to cover.”
The report also noted Hampshire Hospitals’ NHS Foundation Trust (HHFT), which runs the RHCH, along with Basingstoke and north Hampshire and Andover War Memorial hospitals, was attempting to recruit more staff.
County and city councillor Brian Collin, who sits on the county’s health overview and scrutiny committee, said he had not seen the report, but hoped the trust managers were doing all they could to bring in extra staff.
He said: “If there is a staff shortage I am concerned because even in a place as affluent as the South East there are still people looking for jobs.
“I would have questions for the managers and I would want assurances that this is not because they are trying to save money and that somebody was making sure that there were enough people in the pipeline to fill positions as time goes on.”
Donna Green, chief nurse at the trust, said: “We recognise the CQC noted a minor concern on staffing numbers, and are working hard to increase the numbers of nurses on wards.
“Our recruitment campaign is already underway, and we are working hard to attract and recruit more nurses.
“Overall, I’m pleased that this CQC report recognises our commitment to care and cleanliness in our hospitals, but we’re never complacent — care, cleanliness and staffing numbers will continue to be top priorities.”
The inspectors spoke to staff, patients and visitors to the hospital on January 13. The report also highlighted the hospital’s effectiveness at tackling infections, maintaining hygiene, and protecting patients from harm.
It is not the first time the hospital has experienced problems due to staff shortages.
Between December 2007 and March 2008 the hospital, then run by Winchester and Eastleigh Healthcare NHS Trust, was on ‘red alert’ for 63 of 91 days due to a lack of beds and staff.
At one point it meant seven ambulances were queued outside while five patients involved in a road accident were kept waiting in an ambulance outside casualty for 40 minutes.
HHFT has run the hospital since January last year.