Urgent Action Needed from Government to Address NHS Recruitment Crisis in Cumbria

Following the publication of the Care Quality Commission’s Quality Report into the provision of care at North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust, Copeland MP and Shadow Health Minister, Jamie Reed has called upon the Government to urgently address the Trust’s recruitment crisis.
The report makes clear the Trust still requires improvement in some fundamental areas, but that improvements have been made since the inspection last year.  The report further highlights the role that staff shortages are playing in the ongoing problems at the Trust.
The report says:
“The recruitment of nursing staff also remained an on-going challenge.  At the time of our inspection nurse staffing levels, although improved, were still of concern and there was a heavy reliance on staff working extra shifts and on bank and agency staff to maintain staffing levels.  There were times when the wards were not appropriately staffed to meet the needs of patients.”
Recently, Jamie Reed MP wrote to the Government after it was reported that the Government were imposing restrictions on Trusts’ ability to recruit new staff.  Various reports into the care provision at North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust have highlighted staff shortages as a key reason for care failings.  Jamie Reed MP called the Government’s ban on staff recruitment at a time of increasing pressure ‘indefensible’.
Today’s CQC report also praises doctors and nurses for their caring approach to treating patients and including patients and their families in the provision of care:
“Services were delivered by caring and compassionate staff.  Staff treated patients with dignity and respect.  Care was planned and delivered in a way that took into account the wishes of the patients.  Staff were mindful of patient’s individual fears and anxieties and offered appropriate emotional and psychological support to patients who were anxious or worried.”
Copeland MP and Labour’s Shadow Health Minister, Jamie Reed MP said:
“This report is clear: though improvements are being made, there is still a great deal of work to do to improve the quality of care.
“The Care Quality Commission have rightly recognised the great care that doctors and nurses in West Cumbria provide, but the staff are being pushed to breaking point.  For too long the Government have refused to intervene in the ongoing recruitment crisis at the Trust.  We have known for years that staff shortages are having a profound effect on patient care and this report further confirms that.  Staff are working extra hours, often unpaid, and wards are still not getting the cover they need.  The Government can’t afford to be complacent on this.  Nor can they claim to want improvement without providing the resources our hospitals need to make this happen. Unless they step in to assist in the recruitment of medical staff, the improvements we have seen in some parts of the system won’t be secured.

“With a fantastic new facility in the shape of the new West Cumberland Hospital and the dedicated NHS staff we have at the moment, we have the foundations for high quality healthcare in West Cumbria, but the Government must assist the Trust in ending staff shortages.  I will again be writing to the Secretary of State for Health to ask for support. It beggars belief that we know what the root of our problems is, yet we continue to fail to address it. I’ll continue to pursue plans to ‘grow our own ‘ medics and the ’Success Regime’ must address recruitment difficulties, but we need immediate assistance.  The continued difficulties experienced by the Trust must not be used as a smokescreen to reduce services at either hospital site.”
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