Manchester Children's Hospital: 'Dangerously low' staffing levels reported

Hospital general view Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption One medic fears a patient will have to die before staffing concerns are addressed

Medical staff at Manchester Children's Hospital have warned "dangerous staffing levels" have put patients at risk in its critical care unit.

They listed their concerns in an "honesty box", a letter leaked to the Manchester Evening News revealed.

These include allegations some ill children were discharged early, and claims of a lack of equipment and beds.

Manchester NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, said staff concerns are taken "very seriously".

'Surges in demand'

They were able to leave their concerns anonymously in the "honesty box" which was placed in a staff room between 26 and 29 November last year.

"I worry that it will take a patient dying as a direct result of short-staffing before anything changes," one medic is said to have written.

"We seem to keep saying yes to admissions when it is already terrifyingly unsafe."

Other complaints included:

  • Several employees said they were having to monitor two ventilated patients simultaneously, a practice they suggested was dangerous
  • They also claimed children have been discharged to general wards early in order to free up beds
  • Not enough experienced staff on shifts... leading to experienced staff always having difficult shifts and making new staff vulnerable and unsupported
  • Understaffing ratio to patients leaves nurses and patients vulnerable to mistakes - always rushing
  • Staff being "guilt-tripped" to come into work
  • Staff expected to come in on their own time to train on equipment necessary to care for children in our jobs

A letter summarising their concerns, dated 1 December 2017, was then sent to management claiming the feeling is "management are aware of our concerns but do nothing to address them".

In a statement, the trust said there had been "particular surges in demand" at the hospital this winter.

"The management team have taken the concerns of the staff very seriously and responded immediately with a series of actions to ensure that these concerns are fully understood and addressed.

"Only under very exceptional circumstances would staff be expected to care for two ventilated patients and this would be for a very short period of time.

"The decision to admit or discharge a child to or from the children's critical care service is always based on clinical need and an assessment of the resources available.

"Every effort is made to accommodate these very sick children and we are very grateful to our staff for their commitment and hard work."

Estephanie Dunn, North West regional director for the Royal College of Nursing, was "troubled" by the concerns of hospital staff, but "welcomed the measures being taken to resolve the issues".

It has requested a meeting with the hospital's nursing management team.

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