Staffing challenge for hospital bosses as unions reveal alliance fears

Hospital chiefs have revealed they are facing recruitment challenges as union bosses say a new hospital alliance isn't helping staff morale.

South Tyneside District Hospital.
South Tyneside District Hospital.

South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust has said it’s ‘faced challenges’ in recent months to recruit registered nurses.

Marian Langley, the secretary of Unison’s South Tyneside’s health branch, believes the Trust’s recent alliance with City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Trust is making current staff feel insecure.

Glenn Turp, regional director for the Royal College of Nursing in Yorkshire and the Humber

She said: “I wouldn’t say South Tyneside is different to any other hospital when it comes to its staffing levels but I think the new alliance with Sunderland is causing concern.

“There’s a lot of insecurity among staff, both here and in Sunderland, and speculation with regard as to what is happening and what will happen in the future.

“We as a trade union have to support members over staffing levels.”

The Trust came under criticism last week after it reached an out of court settlement with the family of Thomas Brown who died while patient at South Tyneside District Hospital.

Glenn Turp, regional director for the Royal College of Nursing in Yorkshire and the Humber

Mr Brown, 83, from Jarrow, was admitted to the Harton Lane hospital on February 2015 and within 23 days he had fell six times, one incident led to him breaking his hip on February 28 which required surgery. He then developed urinary sepsis and died on March 14.

His family believe staffing shortages contributed to the falls and the Royal College of Nursing say there are 24,000 vacant nursing posts across the UK

Melanie Johnson, the Trust’s executive director of nursing and patient experience, said: “Our frontline staff are focused daily on ensuring staffing levels are safe and our nurses are dedicated to ensuring that every patient receives the correct level of care from a respectful member of staff and that the care is as safe as it can possibly be.

“Like many NHS trusts across the country, we have faced challenges in recent months in recruiting registered nurses. Dealing with this challenge is one of our priorities on a daily basis at ward level and in terms of our ongoing recruitment campaigns at home and abroad.”

Glenn Turp, regional director for the Royal College of Nursing, northern region, said: “Regardless of the hospital, we are able to confirm that if there aren’t sufficient nursing staff with the right skill mix, then patients are at risk from falls.”