Norwich hospital struggling to recruit enough nurses

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. - Credit: PA

The nursing director of Norfolk's biggest hospital has admitted the trust 'struggles' to find enough nurses to fill every shift.

Emma McKay said the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (N&N) had enough nursing posts, but could not recruit people for every position.

While 50 new nurses are starting work at the N&N this quarter, a further 60 are needed, yesterday's N&N board meeting heard.

'We've struggled with filling every shift,' said Ms McKay. 'We don't allow annual leave on the wards at Christmas so it's not poor planning.

'It's been tricky and we're looking at how we can fill them [the vacant nursing posts].

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'We look to make sure every area is covered safely and that's a challenge.'

She said the N&N was able to meet the baseline number of nurses required, but needed extra people for support.

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This was for help when patients were at risk of falling, when patients were aggressive or other such circumstances, and there could be 'quite significant' requests.

Anna Dugdale, chief executive, said that with retirements and the current rate of attrition, it would take 11 years to fill all nurse vacancies if no action was taken.

'We're going to have to think about innovative ways to fill these gaps,' she said.

The hospital was working closely with the UEA. In a 2011 head count, the N&N had 2,090 registered nursing and midwifery staff.

Medical director Professor Krishna Sethia is stepping down from his role at the N&N after six years.

John Fry, trust chairman, thanked him for his 'tireless commitment and dedication'.

He added: 'We are undertaking a national recruitment exercise and hope to attract applications from the very best candidates from outside and inside the N&N.'

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