"Excellent Staff - Appalling Staffing"

About: Wansbeck Hospital

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I recently spent three days in Ward 3, Wansbeck Hospital. While the staff provided me with excellent care for which I am grateful, I was appalled to discover that there were only 2 members of staff on duty on a night shift. I was afraid to go to sleep in case something happened to me while they were busy with another patient as I felt it would be impossible for 2 nurses to properly observe 21 patients. It was my understanding that they rely on staff from the adjoining cardiac care unit to help them during the night. I also did not like having a shower or going to the toilet as the facilities are used by both men and women and it made me feel uncomfortable. Everything else was fine. The staff worked very hard and were professional and polite. My only hope is that they are appreciated from their management and the staffing numbers are addressed.

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Response from Wansbeck Hospital

Dear Sir / Madam, Thank you for your note and for the very kind comments you had to make about the care you received from staff on ward 3. Our staff do work incredibly hard every day to meet the high standards we want to have in place for every patient and we do appreciate their efforts very much indeed. I was really sorry to hear that the number of nurses on duty did not meet your expectations and that this caused you to feel unsafe and worried at night time. We don’t want any of our patients to feel this way. Anne Kennedy (Deputy Director of Medicine and Emergency Care) and Debbie Reape ( Deputy Director of Nursing) have both had an opportunity to see your concerns. Ward three is staffed with 4 registered nurses overnight who work as a team to look after 26 patients in total, two nurses are nominally allocated to the ward (22 patients) and two nurses to look after up to four patients in the 4 bedded cardiology bay. There are daily site meetings in place to discuss the staffing for the coming 24 hour period and if there are more highly dependent patients on this ward or any other ward the Matron and Operational Service Managers agree the need and secure more staff as appropriate. There are also two Night Nurse Practitioners on site at Wansbeck who are responsible for safe care overnight and account for nurse staffing and changes in nurse staffing. Should the ward staff feel there are insufficient staff on duty at any time they are asked to report this to the night nurse practitioners (for the overnight period) and they are asked to complete an incident reporting form. The service manager and matron have kindly looked back at the weekly ward 3 records for this year and there has been no occasion when the ward has been understaffed compared to the funded nursing establishment. There was one occasion in August when extra staff was provided due to the additional needs of patients on the ward. We will make sure that your feedback is discussed at the Ward Clinical Governance meeting next Wednesday to see if there is anything we can learn about improving the way the team work together or improving the information we give to patients so that they can feel safe at night. I hope that helps. I am also sorry that the need to share bathrooms had an impact on your dignity and privacy. We understand that this matters a great deal to patients. Each ward does have designated bathrooms for male and female patients, and the signs on the doors are changed if there is an increase in male or female patients at any given time to provide single sex bathrooms. We should have explained this to you and I’m really sorry if we didn’t. We know that all feedback, good and bad, helps us improve as an organisation so if there are any more concerns or comments about ward 3, I know the matron Helen Hall will be happy to hear them from you directly. You can reach her at Helen.Hall @nhct.nhs.uk Thanks again for your timely and thoughtful feedback, Annie Laverty – Director of Patient Experience.

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