Bristol Children’s Hospital ‘significantly understaffed’ with only half the people it needs, health chiefs warn

Bristol Children’s Hospital ‘significantly understaffed’ with only half the people it needs, health chiefs warn

Bristol Children’s Hospital’s emergency department (ED) is “significantly” understaffed and needs to almost double its number of permanent health workers, bosses have warned. The hospital’s Seahorse intensive care unit and Weston General Hospital A&E are also in need of more registered nurses, nursing assistants and healthcare support workers, a meeting of University Hospitals Bristol & Weston NHS Trust’s (UHBW’s) board was told.

UHBW insists employee levels at the three departments are safe and that it is using agency staff to fill the gap on a temporary basis. A biannual report called “Safe Staffing for nursing, midwifery and allied health professionals” said the trust had assessed how many of each permanent role it should have in all wards, using a nationally approved method called the safer nursing care tool (SNCT).

It said: “The SNCT results for children’s ED demonstrated significant staffing gaps across the department. This was supported by the consistent level of low staffing incidents reported for this area.

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“November and December were exceptionally challenging for the ED, with record numbers of children attending.” The report called for an extra 18 registered nurses, 11 nurse associates and 11 healthcare support workers, with recruitment phased over three years.

The department currently has 43 nurses and about 11 healthcare support workers, plus supervisory staff. The report said the requirement to ensure full staffing of the 18 beds in the children’s intensive care unit was roughly eight more nurses and four practice education facilitators (PEFs), who give staff professional and pastoral support and guide junior workers, on top of the existing 95 registered children’s nurses, three Band 4 nurses and four PEFs.

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It said Weston’s emergency department needed an additional 10 nurses and 10 healthcare support workers to join the 53 staff currently there “to provide safe cover across the whole 24-hour period as patients are cared for in ED overnight”. UHBW chief nurse and midwife Deirdre Fowler told the meeting on Thursday, January 15: “The reviews primarily have told us that across our adult in-patient wards, in the main our nurse staffing is fit for purpose.”

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  • June 25, 2023