Only one nurse on duty on ward

Published Date:
16 May 2008

By John Edwards Bridlington Free Press...Anyone with stories contact John

ONLY one nurse was on duty on a ward at Bridlington Hospital for a time over the Bank Holiday weekend.

Union leaders say they are considering reporting Scarborough and North East Yorkshire Healthcare NHS Trust to the professional standards body for nursing.

And MP Greg Knight has called on Health Secretary Alan Johnson to intervene.

The nurse was in sole charge of the 30-bed ward at a time over the Bank Holiday weekend, and trade union Unite said there should have been seven staff on duty.

Mr Knight called it "shocking" and demanded action to provide better patient care, saying: "This is totally unacceptable. To make matters worse, Bridlington is a tourist area and the population rises during the summer months and Bank Holidays, so this level of nursing cover is quite shocking.

"The whole problems around Bridlington Hospital are cash-related. The hospital is a relatively new building. It was built in the 1980s as a purpose-built hospital and in NHS terms is therefore a modern building. Services should be expanded, not cut back as they are."

The latest revelation comes just weeks after the trust was criticised for launching a recruitment drive for finance staff while it was known to have a shortage of nurses.

Unite health spokesman Kevin Coyne said: "The nursing levels at Bridlington Hospital are critically low and we are extremely worried about the impact on the care of those on the wards.

"We are considering reporting the matter to the Nursing and Midwifery Council because we believe this is unsafe practice.

"We believe it is death by a thousand cuts because the trust is intent on closing the wards in question. Clearly the wards are understaffed at the moment and they intend moving services to Scarborough. We believe that is wrong."

Campaigner Mick Pilling said: "Staff shortages have been ongoing for that last 18 months and nothing has been done.

"This is mismanagement and has come about because the trust have been more concerned about balancing the books."

He said morale among nurses at the hospital was at an all-time low.

Explaining the situation, trust chief executive Iain McInnes said: "On Saturday, May 3 at Bridlington Hospital a qualified nurse reported sick at very short notice potentially leaving one medical area, Thornton Ward, with one qualified nurse for the late shift.

"Thornton Ward normally operates with two qualified staff as a minimum.

"Immediate arrangements were made to cover the ward. However, following the additional cover being arranged, there was a period from 5pm to 8.15pm when the ward was covered by one of Thornton Ward's own qualified nurses supported by additional qualified nurse cover from two other areas of the hospital.

"The qualified nurses were supported by the usual number of healthcare assistants and medical staff.

"Patient safety was not compromised at any time during the course of the shift period.