Workforce challenges adding to 12-hour Shropshire hospital trolley waits, say health bosses
Workforce issues have added further challenges to the demands facing Shropshire's major hospitals, health bosses have said.
Telford & Wrekin Clinical Commissioning Group's governance board was told that as of Tuesday, 226 patients had faced trolley waits of more than 12 hours at Shropshire's A&Es this month.
David Evans, joint accountable officer for Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin CCG, told the board there were "undoubtedly workforce issues" at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH), which runs Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and Telford's Princess Royal Hospital.
Although the numbers of consultants improved last year, he said one consultant has resigned, another is going on maternity leave and a third was on sick leave.
Christine Morris, executive nurse and lead for quality and safety on Telford & Wrekin CCG, said in each instance where patients faced long trolley waits the trust assessed whether they had come to any harm – and more work is being done to find out how patients are affected in the longer term.
She said: "We have been having daily contact with the senior nurses in the trust to ensure patients are receiving appropriate care.
"On occasion we encouraged the trust to take enhanced action to support that, which they have done.
"It's far from ideal but I think given the challenges the trust have got, particularly from their workforce, they are doing the best they can in very difficult circumstances."
She said other organisations and NHS England/Improvement were also providing extra support where they could.
NHS England figures showed 348 patients waited more than 12 hours on trolleys at the county's emergency departments last month – ranking the trust the worst in the country.
It compared to just one patient being affected by a wait of more than 12 hours in December 2018, and had risen from 61 in November last year.
Sara Biffen, deputy chief operating officer at SaTH, said doctors, nurses and other staff are working hard to provide the best possible care in the face of 'very high demand'.
She said additional cubicles have been opened and additional bed space created on a number of wards, meanwhile plans are in place to open new wards at both hospitals in the coming weeks.
Bosses have also said that the Future Fit scheme will help with staff recruitment.
Under the plans, emergency and planned care will be separated across both hospital sites.