Concern raised over nurse staffing levels at James Paget Hospital during busy winter period

James Paget University Hospital, Gorleston, Norfolk.

James Paget University Hospital, Gorleston, Norfolk. - Credit: Nick Butcher

A hospital chairman has raised concerns after the level of nursing staff dropped during a period of high pressure.

Directors of the James Paget Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust today spoke of the challenges they have faced over the winter.

Staff were praised for how they coped over the Christmas and New Year Period, where in December an extra 234 people visiting the Accident and Emergency (A&E) department compared to November, with an extra 137 ambulance arrivals

However the month also saw a reduction in shift fills for registered nurses and health care assistants, from 95.73pc to 91.98pc - the lowest figures since February 2016.

At today's board meeting, chairman David Wright said: 'I think we have to be concerned that our level of staff has dropped in proportionate to the number of patients we have got.'

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He added: 'So I guess the crux of the question is are we satisfied as a trust that we are doing everything we can to recruit for the vacancies available, because there is no question in my mind we shouldn't be refusing patients who are desperately ill because it's tight on the nursing or medical front.'

Steps have been taken in terms of recruitment with more than 60 nurses local and abroad who have been offered employment.

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The hospital faced its busiest day over the period on January 3. In 24 hours there were a total of 216 A&E attendances and 63 ambulances attending the department.

Directors were told that staff worked long and hard to create extra space within the hospital that day, with 14 beds made available elsewhere such as in the physiotherapy department.

The meeting also heard that several key performances indicators were not met in December.

These included the A&E 95pc target for patients being in the department for less than four hours as well ambulance handover times.

However directors praised the fact that figures did not deteriorate drastically despite the pressures and that many key indicators held onto their target and only one serious incident happened throughout the entire month.

Chief executive Christine Allen said: 'The staff faced high levels of demand but they were great. They really pulled together and did the best for the care of our patients.'

She added that the hospital is now planning ahead for the busy Easter break.

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