Nurse shortages and lack of beds force hundreds of surgery delays

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The Granthshala has learned that about 300 operations were canceled on the day they were due due to a shortage of critical care beds and nurses at one of England’s largest hospitals.

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The situation at Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust has become so dire that this weekend the trust’s owners appealed to the trust for any nurse, regardless of their experience, to work extra hours in their intensive care units in exchange for increased pay. Sent.

The staffing ratio in intensive care – where the sickest patients fight for their lives – has been raised beyond previously acceptable limits.


The situation is being replicated in trusts across the UK, with The Granthshala being told of delays in operations in London, Brighton, Wales and Scotland for similar reasons.

National leaders in critical care nursing have warned of risks to patient safety by stretching the nurse to patient ratio too far.

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Intensive care is a highly efficient environment where patients are often connected to multiple machines to help them breathe and support their organs, which require constant monitoring by nurses.

In Leeds, 283 operations were canceled at the last minute in August and July this year, largely due to critical care bed capacity.

In a message to count staff over the weekend obtained by The Granthshala, the owners said: “We have a staff shortage in our critical care wards this weekend. That’s why we are asking for support. If you don’t usually work in critical care, it will be in a supernumerary supportive shift (similar to the critical care used during the first and second wave of critical COVID patients). “

The situation at Leeds General Infirmary got so bad on Saturday evening that the trust had to suspend its critical care outreach team in the hospital wards. The service is designed to help identify patients who are deteriorating so that they can receive intensive care sooner.

A nurse who works on the wards at the Leeds Trust said it has been suspended repeatedly in recent weeks due to staff shortages.

He said: “Caring for patients has gone down, I guess as a nurse you don’t want to say care is bad but that’s not the care I want to give. To care for more patients you yourself cannot be divided into two parts.

“I was worried about staffing levels three years ago, now I don’t know what the term is but it’s more than worry. For example you leave the ward worrying about not giving antibiotics on time when you know That you are putting someone at risk of dying of sepsis.”

He said the nurses at the trust were “running empty” that they didn’t have enough support for their health or mental health.

He said earlier this year the proportion of nurses in intensive care had jumped to one to four, compared to the usual one to one level. In general wards, he said, nurses sometimes looked after 12 or more patients.

She adds: “It may be patients who are doubly incontinent who require condition and care.”

The Royal College of Nursing has warned of an NHS workforce crisis with 18 per cent more sick days among nurses and health visitors in May this year compared to May 2019.

The UK Critical Care Nursing Alliance, made up of six nursing organisations, has said that changes in nurse-to-patient ratios should only be extended in “extraordinary circumstances”, adding: “ratios should return to normal as soon as possible”. Because these are staffing levels. Not sustainable for nurses’ well-being and patient safety.”

After a board meeting at Leeds Hospitals Trust on 30 September was told that critical care units were under “significant pressure”, trust officials acknowledged that the risk staffing ratio would need to exceed current guidance.

As of August, the trust had over 70,000 patients on its waiting list, of whom 262 had waited for more than two years for treatment.

Dr Andy Breen, Clinical Director of Adult Critical Care at the Leeds Trust, said: “As one of the largest acute hospital trusts, we frequently move staff among our critical care teams, those critical care units the most. Prioritize with urgent needs.

“Critical care outreach staff at a hospital was moved to separate units for a short period of time this weekend. However, our staff maintained their 1:1 ratio to support Level 3 critical care patients at all times and our general wards had contingency plans in place to meet the needs of any deteriorating patients.

The trust said it was recruiting employees to try and raise the level of staff.

The NHS is planning a new fast track training course for 10,500 staff over the next 12 months to try and increase staffing levels in critical care units in the NHS.

Health Education England said it has £10 million to support existing staff to help nurses and other health professionals work in critical care.


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