New figures reveal reductions in staff at West Cumberland Hospital

New figures uncovered by Jamie Reed MP reveal the reduction in staff at West Cumberland Hospital between April 2010 and May 2015. 

The figures were obtained through a Freedom of Information request to the North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust. They show a reduction of over 33 full time equivalent nurses working at the hospital and 39% fewer full time equivalent doctors since the Government came to office.

West Cumberland Hospital
April 2010
May 2015
Number of nurses (full time equivalent)
432.43
399.06
Number of doctors (full time equivalent)
101.98
62.33

These figures come just over one year after three junior doctors were removed from wards at West Cumberland Hospital because there were not enough senior staff to supervise them. Mr Reed has raised repeated concerns about recruitment at the hospital and last week wrote to the Secretary of State for Health to condemn the Government’s reported plans to halt all but essential staff recruitment.

Mr Reed has also highlighted concerns about growing trends in staff bullying, work related stress and unpaid overtime in the NHS as matters of concern. Analysis of the NHS Staff Survey shows that the number of staff working unpaid overtime on top of their contracted hours each week has risen by a fifth since 2010. The survey also shows that almost 1 in 4 staff at the North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust has experienced some form of harassment, bullying or abuse from other staff in the last 12 months, an increase of almost 44% since 2010. Meanwhile work related stress has risen by almost a quarter in the last five years. During this time issues relating to staffing shortages have worsened. Various reports by the Care Quality Commission and by Sir Bruce Keogh have highlighted staff shortages as one of the main underlying issues at the Trust.

In order to fill existing gaps in staffing in hospitals, large sums of money are being spent on agency staff both in Copeland and across the UK. Agency staff are hired temporarily by NHS Trusts to fill gaps in staffing. In a Parliamentary Question tabled by Mr Reed recently it has been revealed that North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust spent £15,446,000 in the year 2013/14 on agency staff.

Copeland MP and Labour’s Shadow Health Minister, Jamie Reed MP said:

“The Government must act immediately to put an end to the recruitment crisis.

“The staff at West Cumberland Hospital work incredibly hard under increasing pressure from the Government. The doctors and nurses work in incredibly testing conditions; often working unpaid overtime to provide great care to patients.

“I have written to the Government on a number of occasions to ask them to intervene and provide vital support to the Trust to improve recruitment. However each request has either been ignored or refused. This is shameful.  The Government cannot keep burying its head in the sand, it must step in and ensure safe staffing at our hospital.

“Without addressing the current recruitment crisis in West Cumbria, the Government is storing up a further recruitment crisis for the future as expensive temporary staff cannot train junior doctors.  This is unsustainable.

“Instead of ignoring requests for help, the Government should do more to support staff at West Cumberland Hospital”.
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