Tyne & Wear

South Tyneside NHS Trust 'requires improvement' inspectors say

South Tyneside Hospital Image copyright South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust
Image caption The trust needs to tackle long waits in A&E and a shortage of beds, inspectors found

The trust running hospital and community services in South Tyneside "requires improvement", a watchdog has found.

An inspection by the Care Quality Commission raised concerns about staff shortages and a lack of beds in A&E.

But it found that South Tyneside NHS Trust's staff were "caring" and rated end of life and cancer care "outstanding".

The trust said it had an action plan in place to tackle the issues.

The inspection was carried out in May.

The CQC team found that areas needing improvements included critical care, surgery and services for children.

'Not enough doctors'

The report said: "There had been a recent increase in nursing staff on some wards.

"However, there were not enough doctors and on some wards the number of nurses was below safe levels. The trust was using agency nurses and locum doctors to address their staffing requirements."

Analysis: BBC Look North health reporter Sharon Barbour

Staff at South Tyneside must take heart that their compassion and care of patients is outstanding - but overall the trust has been told to improve and one of the main problems is they don't have enough beds.

This means longer waits in A&E and patients needing intensive care being treated in the wrong places.

The inspectors found there were not enough doctors, and on some wards the number of nurses was below safe levels.

This means the trust is having to pay agencies and more for locum doctors but what options does it have?

Medical recruitment across the North East and North West is a huge and growing problem.

Added to the staff shortages are ongoing financial pressures and increasing demand as patients grow older and their medical problems are more complex.

Social care cuts mean more patients will be in hospital beds - when they should be back in their own, or perhaps in a care home.

Overall, it's a worrying report, and it shows that without the resources, staff and the beds, all the love and care in the world isn't enough to make a struggling health service better.

It added: "In both the hospital and community services inspectors found that arrangements were in place to manage the prevention and control of infection. All areas visited by the inspection team were clean."

Steve Williamson, chief executive of the trust, which provides care for 153,000 patients including some in Sunderland and Gateshead, insisted the service was "safe".

"Nearly two-thirds of CQC hospital inspections across the country since the start of the new inspection process have resulted in an overall assessment of 'requires improvement', which does not mean that services are unsafe but that CQC have identified areas where further improvements can be made," he said.

"In our case, we have had action plans in place for some time to improve in areas identified."

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