Queen’s Hospital chief reveals recruitment difficulties

Queen's Hospital, Rom Valley Way, Romford

Queen's Hospital, Rom Valley Way, Romford - Credit: Archant

NHS staff shortages are putting pressure on hospital teams the chief executive of the trust that runs Queen’s Hospital has said.

Barking Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT) has revealed that 11 per cent of posts are currently vacant.

BHRUT is improving employment rates by creating good working environments and recruiting from abroad.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4 this week chief executive Matthew Hopkins said: “We are consistently working to fill our vacancies and make sure that we have enough staff to provide safe care for out patients.

“But we do operate in a competitive market where there a number of other hospitals also looking to fish from a limited supply of nurses and doctors particularly in the speciality of emergency medicine where it’s competitive nationally and in London.”

The overall vacancy rate has fallen from a high of 13.2pc in April 2015, but approximately 725 of 6,491 established roles at BHRUT remain unfilled.

In acute medicine – including the A&E department – the vacancy rate is 20pc. This was highlighted by the Care Quality Commission as an area requiring improvement when it visited last year and judged that despite significant improvements the trust should remain in special meaures.

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Deborah Tarrant is director of people and organisational development at BHRUT which runs Queen’s Hospital, Romford, and King George Hospital, Goodmayes.

She said: “There is a national shortage of consultants and doctors. We know that emergency departments are very challenging to work in. At our trust in particular the activity is high with increasing demand.”

Staff shortages mean hospitals have to rely on temporary staff – including from agencies which a charge a premium of about 20pc.

Temporary staff cost BHRUT £47million a year and both Mr Hopkins and Mrs Tarrant acknowledged they are an added pressure on existing teams.

Mr Hopkins said: “We have to supplement our staff with the agency workers who are not part of the team on a regular basis.

“Agency workers have an impact on patient care as the best care is delivered by teams that work together regularly.”

The trust has travelled to both Portugal and Italy since Autumn 2015 and recruited about 200 nurses to combat this pressure.