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North Cumbrian hospitals struggling to recruit staff

North Cumbria’s hospitals are struggling to recruit new staff to fill vacancies, including nursing posts.

Lesley Carruthers photo
Lesley Carruthers

Bosses at the Cumberland Infirmary and West Cumberland Hospital have flagged up concerns about the number of vacancies and recent rates of sickness absence in some areas, including A&E.

An increasing number of emergency admissions at both the Carlisle and Whitehaven hospitals has added further pressure.

Lesley Carruthers, North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust’s deputy director of nursing, also revealed that hopes of recruiting nurses from Spain and Portugal have now hit problems.

The trust had hoped that foreign nurses could be the answer to their problems, as has happened at other hospitals nationally.

But at a meeting in Carlisle yesterday, she told the trust board that the agency has hit problems.

“It is nothing to do with the trust.

“We are trying our best but they are struggling to get us the staff.”

The struggling trust, placed into special measures due to concerns over care, has to address staffing issues as one of its priorities before it can be given the all clear.

But bosses say that despite their best efforts, they are finding it hard to recruit in some areas.

And in the past month they have been forced to rely on staff working additional hours to help cover sickness.

Mrs Carruthers said a lot of it was short term sickness and the picture is now improving.

Shirley Reveley, one of the trust’s non-executive directors, said their are similar problems elsewhere in Cumbria, including community health services.

“It’s a county problem. The partnership trust is also struggling to recruit.

“We have to look at it as a wider health economy issue and have some out of the box thinking,” she said.

Les Morgan, director of the West Cumberland Hospital, said: “One of the issues we have is that the partnership trust have had a recruitment drive, but have taken some qualified nurses from us.

“That doesn’t address the wider problem.”

Chief executive Ann Farrar said they need to look at how they can work with other local trusts to address the county’s staffing issues together.

It was also reported to the board that there are a number of medical consultant posts that the trust continues to struggle with, resulting in a reliance on locums.

There has been some successful recruitment in areas such as cardiology, general surgery and vascular, however vacancies remain in oncology, elderly care medicine and gastroenterology, among others.

Medical director Jeremy Rushmer is recommending the board looks at new ways of tackling the issue.

Have your say

We are now facing a new fight that hasn't reached the public yet.Frontline staff I.e the Healthcare Assistants are being asked to justify their roles as the Trust wants to reduce the numbers.Its a constant battle just to go to work! They employed the correct amount of HCA 's after the Keogh slating,now that dust has settled they are removing those posts ! Another prime example of the excellent management of Cumbria Hospitals.

Posted by HCA on 11 December 2013 at 09:16

B they don't train through secondment ,that's yesterday's news it's been stopped for years and if it is still on the go nobody I know or work with knows anything about it.Granted not all degree nurses treat the HCAs as minions but a lot do,that is a fact as being on the receiving end of that treatment It's easy to pick them out.Most experienced nurses will tell you that an experienced HCA makes a better nurse by a mile than an out of school,degree nurse. Again ,you will always get lazy members of staff regarding any role ,but surely there should be a practical approach to encourage dedicated longstanding committed staff to further their careers without having to leave a valuable nursing role.

Posted by HCA on 10 December 2013 at 23:32

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