Middlesbrough hospital had nurse shortage 'almost every night'

James Cook Hospital Image copyright GazetteLive
Image caption The unit at James Cook University Hospital was given the worst possible rating by the health watchdog in July

A hospital's failing critical care unit was short-staffed "almost every night shift" for 12 months.

The facility at Middlesbrough's James Cook University Hospital struggled due to "nurse recruitment problems".

Professor Stephen Bonner, the hospital's clinical director and research director critical care, made the comments at a meeting of the South Tees Joint Health Scrutiny Committee.

The unit was given the worst possible rating by the health watchdog in July.

In their report, inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) criticised the non-reporting of staff shortages and found "harm occurred" to patients because beds were not available.

'Low staffing'

Prof Bonner told the committee: "When they visited they felt a lot of the nursing shifts didn't have the appropriate number of nurses on them - because we didn't have the right number of nurses.

"On those shifts they were not reporting that. It was felt that if we had three nurses fewer on a shift than we should have, then that should have been reported."

He added: "This was about low staffing and that nurse staffing should have been flagged up.

"Occasionally it would be reported but, because of nurse recruitment problems, for about 12 months we were running with fewer nurses on each shift than we should have been.

"Almost every night shift we were a couple of nurses down."

Prof Bonner said a push to recruit more nurses had been largely successful and added he and his staff were keen for the CQC to revisit to see the improvements and reconsider the rating.

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