New nurses save Norfolk hospital £350,000

Extra nurses are being recruited at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Picture: Ian Burt

Extra nurses are being recruited at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

A new intake of nurses will save a hospital more than £350,000, it emerged today as it strengthens staff numbers to address concerns raised by the health watchdog.

Some 81 nurses from the Philippines are joining the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn.

Bosses have launched a major recruitment drive in a bid to cut the cost of employing more expensive agency staff to fill gaps.

Today the QEH said: "For this financial year, the recruitment will save £177,000 as they will arrive over a staggered period but the recruitment should save £372,000 in the 2021 financial year."

Fears over Brexit have not impacted on its existing foreign workforce or recruitment of staff from EU countries.

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But hospital chair Prof Steve Barnett said as well as recruitment drives abroad, the hospital was stepping up efforts to recruit and train people from the local community.

Recruitment is seen as key to reducing the QEH's deficit. The 480-bed hospital finished the financial year £36m in the red.

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In March,it emerged it had had to spend £15m on agency staff between April and November 2018 alone.

A report by Boston Consulting previously said the QEH had an "abnormally high temporary staffing burden".

In September, a report to the hospital's board said: "The ongoing nurse staffing shortage at the QEHKL has to be considered a factor in the staff's ability to consistently deliver safe and effective care, as highlighted in the trust's CQC inspection report of September 2018.

"There is therefore a need to urgently review the current nursing resource and review the options available to ensure patient safety is not compromised either in the immediate, short or longer term."

It came after health watchdog the Care Quality Commission rated it "inadequate".

Shortfalls ran as high as 40pc on some wards. For April, the nurse vacancy rate was down to 17pc.

Some 21 extra staff from India have recently joined the QEH.

And its new chair and chief executive say the hospital is showing the first "green shoots of recovery" as managers address concerns raised by the CQC.

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