“There’s a gap today that no locum filled, so I am carrying both bleeps and doing the work of two people.” That recent tweet, by a children’s doctor, is one of many examples posted on social media by medics illustrating how NHS staff shortages affect them, patients, the smooth running of important services – and, sometimes, the safety of those who are receiving care.
It is a concern shared by every organisation that represents frontline staff, by regulators such as the Care Quality Commission (CQC), and by NHS England, the body that oversees the service.
In January the CQC reported that an inspection it had undertaken of Colchester hospital in Essex found patients were missing out on meals because there were too few staff on duty to feed them. Some patients were wearing dirty dressings, and others did not have their call bells answered promptly, for the same reason.
In a letter to the trust that runs the hospital, it said: “All wards’ actual staffing levels and skill mix meant staff were often overstretched. All staff we spoke with expressed concern about the impact on patient care and personal wellbeing.
“Some staff we spoke to were tearful, reported feeling exhausted and concerned that they were unable to care for patients well enough to keep them safe.”
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Source: The Guardian, 26 March 2023