Staffing at Stoke Mandeville Hospital has improved but is still not up to national standards, according to the Care Quality Commission.
The watchdog says its inspectors made an unannounced visit in July and ‘found that some improvements had been made to staffing levels and support provided to staff – although the hospital is still not fully meeting national standards’.
In March this year, it had formally warned the hospital that it did not have suitable arrangements in place to ensure all staff were supported through appropriate training, supervision and appraisal, and also that it needed to improve staffing levels.
But while Stoke Mandeville appears to have made some progress, the CQC has now issued a formal warning to Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust over staffing at Amersham Hospital.
Inspectors found that nursing staff were under pressure to meet people’s needs on some wards, and patients said that this was having an impact on their care. Staff rotas showed that, on some shifts, the number of staff on duty fell short of the trust’s planned staffing levels.
On other shifts the skill mix was inadequate. While shifts were filled by temporary staff, they were not allowed to carry out certain tasks. This had a knock on effect on permanent staff.
Adrian Hughes, regional director of CQC in the South, said, “It is clear that Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust has made significant improvements to its staffing arrangements at Stoke Mandeville Hospital.
“Now it must ensure that it takes action to address staffing levels at Amersham Hospital, where a shortage of nursing staff on the wards we visited has resulted in patients feeling that care is not always being delivered in the way it should be.
“People are entitled to be treated in services which are safe, effective, caring, well led, and responsive to their needs, and where a service is failing on any of these grounds action is needed. The trust must ensure that there are always adequate and sufficiently skilled staff on duty – and make sure that these staff are adequately supported to meet people’s needs.
“We have asked the trust to tell us how it will make improvements, and will return unannounced in due course to check that it has made the changes we have asked it to make.”
Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust’s chief nurse and director of patient care standards, Lynne Swiatczak, said: “We are committed to the care and safety of our patients, and to ensure that our staff have the right development and support.
“I am pleased, and I hope patients will be reassured, that the Care Quality Commission has highlighted that we have made significant improvements to staffing arrangements at Stoke Mandeville Hospital.
“However, we are never complacent and aim for continuous improvement.
“I recognise that some improvements are still required around staffing and support at Amersham Hospital; this is something that the Board has already acknowledged and been working on for some time.
“We are taking the feedback from inspectors very seriously and have instigated a number of additional actions to those already underway within the Trust to ensure further improvements are quickly made.
“We are confident that we will be able to meet the 30 September deadline for compliance.”