Four years of “efficiency savings” and Calderdale & Huddersfield Hospitals miss their registered nurse staffing targets

An analysis of the latest published data, for May 2014, shows that Calderdale Royal Hospital and Huddersfield Royal Infirmary have both missed their targets for the number of hours worked at their hospitals by registered nurses.

At Calderdale Royal Hospital,  89% of the total nursing day hours were filled & 75% of the night hours filled. At Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, the figures were 89% day, 91% night.

These figures place Calderdale and Huddersfield hospitals Trust among the lowest 30% of Trusts, in terms of meeting their targets for registered nursing hours.This information comes from Shaun Lintern, who reports in the Health Service Journal that more than three quarters of hospital trusts in England have missed their own nurse staffing targets.

NHS trusts must now publish monthly staffing data showing their planned number of nursing hours against the number they managed to fill.There is growing evidence of the importance of registered nurses to the delivery of safe high quality care.

Research indicates that a safe level of nursing staff is one nurse to eight patients. A spokesperson for the Royal College of Nursing in Yorkshire and the Humber said:

“Wherever there is a shortfall in the numbers of nurses or nurses with the right skills on duty there is extra strain on those who are trying to care for patients and there is
potential for patient safety to be compromised. This week the regulatory body the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has published long-awaited
recommendations on safe staffing levels which suggest a minimum of one registered nurse to eight patients, and which introduces a new system to enable staff and patients to report areas where these standards are not being met. We are hopeful that this step will help to highlight areas
where staffing is falling below safe levels and will encourage our local hospitals trusts to keep track of safe
staffing levels. We want to know that our members have
the time and resources to care for their patients just as you would want a loved one to be cared for, with compassion,
respect and dignity, and this is only possible with the right
number of healthcare professionals.”

In 2010, Hospitals Trust estimated 440 jobs would have to go to meet NHS “efficiency savings”

The shortage of registered nurses at the Halifax and Huddersfield hospitals comes after four years of having to make “efficiency savings”. In 2010, when the Coalition government introduced NHS “efficiency savings”, CHFT estimated it would have to cut 440 jobs to save the required amount of money.

The Trust has to generate an additional £6.55m income and cut spending by £13.45m this financial year, to meet a £20m efficiency saving target. One of the ways that the Trust plans to make this saving involves cutting £500K from nurses’ and therapists’ paybill. The Trust plans to make this cut through a mix of measures, including:

  • increased use of technology
  • reducing the non-clinical work that clinical staff currently do, to free up time to focus on clinical work
  • cutting the use of agency staff
  • a 5% productivity increase by therapy staff, eg physio, occupational therapy, Speech and Language Therapy (SALT) dietetics, podiatry etc. This involves cutting 22 WTE jobs.

At the same time as making this saving on the nurses and therapists’ paybill, Huddersfield and Halifax hospitals between them are to spend £1.5m to recruit 70 more full time, qualified nurses, as reported in the Huddersfield Examiner.

The employment of these 70 extra nurses will cost £2m/year. To make up for this extra cost at a time when the hospitals Trust has to cut its spending, the Trust has ordered a cut in the £7m bill for agency staff, overtime and the use of bank nurses.

Proper funding of the NHS is now essential, in order to make up for the cuts inflicted since 2010 – dressed up as “efficiency savings”. These cuts have seen the NHS return £2bn/year to the Treasury and led to the situation where politicians claim that the NHS is no longer sustainable and services must be reconfigured to replace costly hospital care with care in the community.

This is seen as a cheaper alternative, despite the fact that the British Medical Association says care in the community cannot be done on the cheap and would need substantial investment if it were to be set up.

Updated 16 July with comment from Royal College of Nursing spokesperson

Posted from here.

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