Telegraph Newspaper reports “dangerous staffing levels at Park House, Manchester”

Jeremy Hunt said he expected 'swift action' to be taken by failing hospitals Photo: EDDI MULHOLLAND
Jeremy Hunt said he expected ‘swift action’ to be taken by failing hospitals Photo: EDDI MULHOLLAND
Seventeen NHS hospitals have dangerously low numbers of nurses

Seventeen NHS hospitals have dangerously low staffing levels, according to rulings by the official safety watchdog, it has been revealed.

By Patrick Hennessy, and Laura Donnelly
9:00PM GMT 12 Jan 2013

The hospitals, many of them busy district generals, were issued with warnings by the Care Quality Commission after its latest inspections, the body has disclosed.

Each was told it did not have enough staff “to keep people safe and meet their health and welfare needs” — the standard every part of the health service must meet.

The English hospitals were named at a time of growing concern over the safety and dignity of NHS patients, with the report into the Stafford Hospital scandal due to be published in the next few weeks.

Last night Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, said there was “no excuse” for hospitals not to provide adequate staff and he expected “swift action” to be taken by those named as failing.

Labour, which obtained the list, accused David Cameron of imposing a “toxic medicine of spending cuts and reorganisation” on the NHS.

Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, said: “The public has a right to know if their local hospital is taking risks with staffing levels.”

The inspections were carried out by staff from the CQC at each hospital, although not every ward was visited.

Each hospital was told it had failed to employ enough staff “to keep people safe”.

There is no universal ratio of staff to patients. The inspections took place as recently as November.

The warning may affect only part of the hospitals concerned, but patients’ groups said any lack of staff was a grave concern.

The 17 hospitals were named on a list of 26 “health providers” found to have inadequate staffing levels. The data has never before been made public.

The hospitals named were: Scarborough Hospital; Milton Keynes Hospital; Royal Cornwall Hospital; Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust in Liverpool; Queen’s Hospital, Romford; Stamford & Rutland Hospital; Southampton General Hospital; Croydon University Hospital; Bodmin Hospital, Cornwall; Northampton General Hospital; St Peter’s Hospital, Maldon; Queen Mary’s Hospital, London; Chase Farm Hospital, London; Westmorland General Hospital; Pilgrim Hospital, Leicestershire; St Anne’s House, East Sussex; and Princess Royal Hospital, West Sussex.

London Ambulance Service and eight mental health units were also warned about dangerous staffing levels.

They were: Ainslie and Highams Inpatient Facility, London; The Campbell Centre, Bedford; Forston Clinic, Dorset; The Cavell Centre, Peterborough; The Bradgate Mental Health Unit, Leicestershire; Avon and Wiltshire NHS Mental Health Trust; Blackberry Hill Hospital, Bristol; and Park House, Manchester.

At Milton Keynes, patients with dementia were left unable to reach call bells, tables, drinks and warm clothing.

Inspectors said those who were unable to communicate their needs were forced to do without, and that while staff were busy, some did not even seem to notice that some patients were uncomfortable.

At Queen’s Hospital in Romford, Essex, women in labour were exposed to unnecessary risk because there were not enough staff.

Some midwives could not perform basic skills. Previous reports described a “culture of abuse” at the hospital’s maternity unit.

Mr Hunt has promised a renewed drive to protect patient care ahead of what is expected to be a damning report into the Stafford scandal by Robert Francis QC.

Poor staffing levels, particularly involving nurses, were a factor behind the problems at Stafford Hospital, where up to 1,200 patients died needlessly while managers slashed their budgets in pursuit of NHS foundation trust status.

Mr Hunt said: “Where CQC inspections find NHS and social care providers failing in their legal duties to provide enough staff or appropriate care, we expect swift action to be taken.

“There can be no excuse for not providing appropriate staff levels when across the NHS generally there are now more clinical staff working than there were in May 2010 — including nearly 5,000 more doctors and almost 900 extra midwives.”

Mr Burnham said: “One by one, David Cameron has broken all the promises he made on the NHS. It is now struggling with his toxic medicine of spending cuts and reorganisation.

“Almost 7,000 nursing posts have been lost since David Cameron entered Downing Street. The public has a right to know if their local hospital is taking risks with staffing levels.”

Katherine Murphy, the chief executive of the Patients Association said: “It is a deeply worrying picture: these are just the parts of the hospital that the inspectors have seen and there is no reason to think it will be any safer on the wards they have not visited.”

Concern over the quality of care was highlighted last night as it was disclosed that a whistle-blowers’ line for doctors and nurses to report concerns about risks to patients was receiving more than 700 calls a month.

Figures show that in the past three months, almost 2,200 calls have been received from those too frightened to raise their concerns with their bosses, or whose attempts to do so had fallen on deaf ears.

Credit: Telegraph Newspaper © Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2013

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