Staff shortages affecting hospitals

“Significant” staff shortages in maternity units and a catalogue of breaches, including a faulty lift, have been slammed by the health watchdog.

The Care Quality Commission inspected Basildon, Southend, and Broomfield Hospitals in July and August with a series of major concerns raised.

A full report is yet to be sent to the Mid and South Essex Hospital Trust but a summary of the watchdog’s findings in maternity units across the trust revealed staffing was impacting the service.

Hospital bosses have said 40 additional midwives have been hired in the last week.

However, Councillor Ron Woodley, deputy leader of Southend Council has raised concerns that the merger of the three hospitals in recent years is having a negative impact with no “focal point of management”.

The summary of the inspection said: “Across all clinical areas it was clear that there were significant midwifery staffing concerns which were impacting on the service and staff.

“Where possible, this was mitigated using non-clinical staff and flexible working by senior leads.

“Midwives were frustrated by the staffing shortages and felt they were not being heard by ward managers.”

Basildon Hospital’s maternity unit was rated inadequate last year due to serious concerns surrounding leadership and staffing.

Improvements were called for following an investigation after a string of incidents – including one where Gabriela Pintilie bled to death in childbirth

During this year’s inspections, a faulty lift was found in Southend’s urgent and emergency care unit requiring a 20 minute journey for patients being transferred to intensive care.

A spokesman for the trust insisted the hospital was waiting for the delivery of parks to fix it.

Cllr Woodley said: “The Government said it would increase money to the NHS but they need to look at the whole management structure. To have one chief executive running three hospitals is unworkable and doesn’t give a focal point of management.”

A trust spokesman said: “We are really pleased to say we have around 40 midwives who have joined the Trust this week, which will begin to help fill the gaps in midwifery rotas across our sites.”

Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter