UNIONS chiefs say Sunderland Royal Hospital faces a frontline recruitment crisis after it was revealed there are more than 50 nursing vacancies at the trust.
Figures obtained by the Royal College of Nursing’s (RCN) northern region found as the NHS faces another difficult winter, the nursing recruitment crisis continues unabated.
City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust was found to have 54.9 full-time equivalent nursing vacancies.
Trust chiefs argued that there are always vacancies for nurses to work there.
But union bosses today warned that unless the issue is addressed properly, the North East could experience a tragedy like the one at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation, which had to be put into administration when hundreds of patients were found to have received sub-standard care.
Glenn Turp, regional director of the RCN, said of the statistics, which were uncovered in a Freedom of Information request: “These new figures show that the Government is failing to ensure sufficient nurses are trained and retained in the North East and Cumbria.
“NHS trust management across the North East and Cumbria are trying their very best to fill posts and retain staff running ongoing recruitment campaigns, but without sufficient resources coming in from central Government, it is frankly making the task impossible.
“We know from the tragedy at Mid Staffordshire that without sufficient nurses and health care assistants, the quality of care can be compromised.
“It is absolutely vital, therefore, that the Government starts funding sufficient extra places at our local universities as a matter of urgency, so that we have a big enough pool of talent to meet future demands on the service.”
A spokesman for City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust said: “There are always vacancies within trusts for nurses but City Hospitals Sunderland is confident that it will continue to provide the high quality service it has developed, and to attract top quality nursing staff to the area.
“The continuing development of the latest medical technology at the trust, the ongoing modernisation of its facilities, the high skills, training and care of staff, and the reputation the trust has developed with the NHS as a centre of excellence, will all continue to attract the best staff to the Sunderland area.”