'Tired' nurses spread 'very, very thinly' across Pinderfields, Pontefract and Dewsbury Hospital wards despite dip in Covid patients

Frontline NHS staff are currently spread "very, very thinly" across three local hospitals as the second Covid wave continues.

Thursday, 12th November 2020, 12:30 pm

Martin Barkley, chief executive of the trust which runs Pontefract, Dewsbury and Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield, said nurses were tired.

The number of coronavirus patients the hospitals are currently caring for is way past the spring peak of 170, though it did fall slightly on Wednesday.

Those with the virus are being cared for at Pinderfields and now at Dewsbury, which had been kept free of Covid patients during the first wave to allow other hospital work to continue.

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The trust says it has enough beds to cope with the crisis, but that staff availability is a problem.

Speaking at a meeting of the Mid Yorkshire Trust board on Thursday, Mr Barkley said the situation remained "quite serious".

He said: "The number of Covid patients we're treating is significantly higher than it was at the peak (during the first wave).

"Yesterday the numbers did go down by 27 from 297 to 270.

"But staff are tired. Staffing levels on the wards particularly are very, very thin and the nurses are stretched significantly.

Martin Barkley, chief executive of the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust

"That's the biggest issue. It's not the availability of beds, it's the availability of staff.

"That's why we took the decision to close the operating theatres at Pontefract and Dewsbury on Monday this week to increase staff numbers looking after in-patients."

Mr Barkley said that during the spring, the trust had hit its peak number of patients 18 days after lockdown first began.

Despite the fall in cases on Wednesday, the trust chief said it was possible the numbers could rise again.

He added: "If history repeats itself, we should hit our peak a week on Saturday, but we'll see.

"It's encouraging that the numbers went down yesterday and the number of patients testing positive went down as well.

"But it's too early to draw any conclusion."

Fellow trust board member Simon Stone said he hoped the pop-up "nightingale" hospital in Harrogate would not have to be used, as it would require staff to be redeployed from their current place of work.

Local Democracy Reporting Service