Nurse shortage hits patient care at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust

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Hospital wards are shortstaffed after the number of nursing vacancies more than doubled during the past year, official figures reveal.

And patient care could suffer at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust amid an NHS-wide recruitment crisis.

Twelve months ago a monthly staffing report showed almost 110 vacancies for full-time nurses at the trust, which runs Pinderfields, Pontefract and Dewsbury hospitals.

Latest figures for October this year put the nurse shortfall at 230 vacancies.

David Melia, Mid Yorkshire’s director of nursing, said: “In similar ways to many other NHS organisations, we continue to experience difficulties in recruiting registered nurses to our vacant posts.

“Nationwide, there are more vacancies than registered staff to fill them, and as a trust we currently have 230 whole time equivalent vacancies.

“This includes the additional 50 posts we made an investment in September.”

The staff shortage led to more than 900 ‘red flag’ events, where staff report not having enough time to care for patients properly, being registered in October alone. The staffing report shows 939 were logged that month, up by 113 from September.

Mr Melia said: “The safety and wellbeing of our patients is of course of paramount importance.

“We have introduced different ways on the wards to support patients who may require closer supervision because of their clinical state for conditions such as dementia and confusion.

“We have also developed a new style of falls prevention training to help reduce preventable falls.”

Mid Yorkshire said it had been recognised by the regulator NHS Improvement for its staff retention initiatives.

Next April, a cohort of nursing students will also join the trust as part of a partnership with Bradford University.

Mr Melia added: “The satellite nursing school will be based at Dewsbury and District Hospital and support greater nursing recruitment for the trust.”