Chesterfield Royal Hospital’s overworked nurses are ‘tired’ as they struggle to meet patient needs

Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is having to rely on expensive agency workers due to staff shortage.

By Christina Massey
Friday, 8th July 2022, 3:48 pm
Updated Monday, 11th July 2022, 12:52 pm

Overworked nurses are ‘tired’ as they struggle to take safe care of patients while making up for a lack of available staff, a hospital chief has revealed.

In her report to the Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, deputy chief nurse Sarah Ward also explained that an assessment of patient need carried out between January and June this year showed on average patients received around an hour less care a day than required.

She commented: “We are mitigating our risk on a daily basis, we have robust processes, but our staff are really tired and it’s not inconsequential – the impact upon them on a daily basis.”

Chesterfield Royal Hospital

Ms Ward explained that patients were on a whole ‘more sick’ when they were coming into hospital and needed increased care.

She added that following the pandemic, the hospital was seeing the return of elective patients, whose non-emergency treatment is scheduled in advance, which added to this problem.

“They’ve waited longer, so they’re not as fit as they were coming in previously, so this incremental rise is consistent,” Ms Ward stated.

She said there was a further gap in the number of nursing staff needed versus the number who were actually available to work on a roster due to a mixture of vacancies, long-term sickness and maternity leave.

Ms Ward said the hospital was forced to use agency staff to make up the shortfall.

“We are performing well against our agency reduction plan, that’s notwithstanding the fact that this is a considerable cost each month – in June alone that was £900,000, which is a considerable figure,” she commented.

Ms Ward said the trust had seen success with its overseas recruitment plan, with 108 internationally trained nurses taken on over the last two years.

She added that they were also expecting approximately 60 newly qualified nurses to join the team later in the year.

Lord Paul Scriven commented that the report recommended the recruitment of more full time staff, but questioned how this could be done successfully.

“The problem is I don’t understand what it is we’re going to do innovatively to get this pool of staff that you say we can’t get because there is no staff,” he said.

Ms Ward replied that the trust planned to employ an ‘enhanced leadership’ plan to improve staff retention.

She said: “What the enhanced leadership does is makes us an even more attractive employer because our staff want to stay where they are being developed and they can see a development route through.”