Crisis of staffing amidst backlog of patient treatments from NHS hospitals

Crisis of staffing amidst backlog of patient treatments from NHS hospitals

Trusts turn to international recruitment to help with high vacancy rates as critical care units remain closed for surgeries. 

Health leaders have announced that hospitals are still facing a staffing crisis despite trusts cutting back on patients needing surgery.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has confirmed this to be true, saying that many trusts are struggling to manage all patients needing treatment. On top of the glaring 40,000 nurse vacancies currently in the UK, the already retired staff hired to help fight Covid-19, are leaving because of the physical and mental effects of the pandemic.

Several trusts have reached out to international recruitment agencies outside of Europe to source non-European healthcare staff to replace those nurses who left due to Brexit.

Aside from managing the backlog of patients needing treatment, trusts are having to deal with flu season.

Medics across a number of trusts shared their views and expressed concern on low nurse staffing levels.

A post from an intensive care medic in Bristol named Agnieszka Shorko, confirmed that the high dependency unit (HDU) in his trust is closed due to not having enough staff. The post said,

“This is our surgical HDU. It has now been closed for weeks because we don’t have enough nurses to staff it. I feel incredibly sad every time I walk through and think about the patients missing out on vital surgery.”

HDU departments are used for patients who have undergone major surgery and for those with single-organ failure.

Alan Blake, patient, had his bypass operation pushed back multiple times. He said,

“This was cancelled on five occasions, at short notice, due to a lack of CCU nurses. Let’s not forget that when this happens there are teams of surgeons, anesthetists and theatre nurses stood around idle for hours, even days.”

The Government has promised an additional 50,000 nurses. The Department of Health and Social Care confirmed that there has been a 21% increase in the number of nurses working within the NHS and even nursing and midwifery applications have increased.

The Government is working closely with the Health Education in training staff with the right skills and ultimately “improving retention, investing in and diversifying our training pipeline, and continuing to ethically recruit from overseas” said a spokesperson of University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust.