Cumbria hospital staff fears over patient safety
A cash crisis could be putting patient welfare at two hospitals in Cumbria at risk, according to some of the staff.BBC News: Cumbria hospital staff fears over patient safety
They say there is a shortage of beds and low morale at Carlisle's Cumberland Infirmary and the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven.
A number of incidents have been reported to BBC Inside Out.
North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust said it would investigate the claims, and insisted patient care was not suffering.
Read more on the BBC News website...
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The black and white pictures represent life's rich tapestry, captured before the pattern was set.
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Cumbria hospital investigation
Nurses have spoken out over conditions at two hospitals in Cumbria and warned that staff cuts, budget pressures and bed shortages are putting patient safety at risk.
Medical staff told BBC Inside Out that a financial crisis at the Cumberland Infirmary and West Cumberland Hospital could compromise patient care.
A damning log book of incidents compiled by staff in one unit earlier this year revealed a potentially seriously ill patient waited three hours 40 minutes to see a doctor while other patients had to have medical assessments in hospital corridors or were left in cubicles.
One whistleblower said the A&E unit at Carlisle was sometimes so under-staffed that nurses had to adopt procedures used for major terrorist attacks when deciding which patient to treat first.
The nurse, who spoke anonymously, said: "Basically, if they’re going to be alive for the next five minutes you’re going to look at the next person… like in London when there was a bomb."
Nurses also revealed that managers at the Trust which runs both hospitals had embarked on a ‘good news’ campaign to put a positive spin on conditions on the wards.
An email circulated to staff said the Trust aimed to put out "as many positive press releases as we can" over a two week campaign.
A union official also claimed that nurses were being ‘bullied’ by managers and told not to fill in forms which would report problems caused by staff shortages.
Consultant Guy Broome, chair of Cumberland Infirmary medical staff committee said: "Consultants believed they were still providing high quality care, but he warned the system was ‘close to breakdown’."
He also warned of a possible repeat of the scandal at Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust, where 1,200 patients died after suffering appalling standards of care if warnings aren’t listened to and a new round of cuts goes ahead.
Nurses who spoke to the programme cited a shortage of beds and shortage of staff as the primary problems faced at the hospitals.
In the year up to March 2011 the number of beds at the Trust fell by 51 to 603 and registered nurses and midwifes fell by 42 to 1057 in the year to August.
The North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust is under pressure to make savings of £15m this year.
Neil Goodwin, the Trust’s Chief Operating Officer, said he would investigate the incidents which were recorded in the logbook by A&E staff in the five months up to April this year.
Mr Goodwin said he did not believe problems were being under-reported and that he was not aware of nursing staff being bullied.
He also denied there were signs that the hospitals were running the risk of experiencing the same problems as at Mid Staffordshire.
"That’s not the case here. There’s no evidence to say we have safety and quality concerns. We’re a high performing hospital in those areas and there’s a good relationship between the Trust board and the consultant staff at the hospital."
- Chris Jackson