Staff question NHS bed closure claims

Bridlington Hospital
Bridlington Hospital

Claims from York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust that staff were told in advance of the closure of eight beds on Johnson Ward at Bridlington have been dismissed by a hospital worker who has said they found out about the move from kitchen staff.

The Free Press reported last week about the opening of Graham Ward in Scarborough has resulted in the bed closures in Bridlington due to “consistently operating well below capacity”; another statement that has been disregarded.

In consequence to this, two members of staff have been relocated to Scarborough. Since their departure however, a bank nurse has been taken on at Johnson Ward on a reported £25 an hour. The financial logic in the move has been questioned by staff.

A hospital worker said: “They are sending two fully qualified nurses up to Scarborough and they’ve brought in an agency nurse instead for the Johnson Ward on a six month bracket.

“A ward nurse is on about £15 per hour but these agency staff are on £25. It’s absolutely crazy and it’s rubbed the staff up the wrong way.

“The sister of the ward didn’t get an email that the rest other people in charge received so the staff on Johnson Ward found out through kitchen staff which is horrific.”

Johnson Ward is a rehabilitation Ward for people who have suffered from a heart attack, stroke or breathing problems.

New figures released by the government following a parliamentary question show that NHS Foundation Trusts spent £4.3bn between 2010-11 and 2013-14 on agency and temporary staff. In the last year of the Labour government, NHS foundation trusts spent £734m. In 2013-14 that had doubled to £1.3bn despite pledges of cuts regarding this matter.

A spokesperson for York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said: “As demand increases and resources become scarcer, we have an obligation to use our resources as best we can. One of the benefits of being a large organisation with multiple sites is that we can be flexible.

“Increasingly we would envisage our most acutely ill patients being treated at Scarborough and planned care and rehabilitation being delivered in Bridlington.”

A hospital worker said: “We have had to turn patients away since the bed closure. Where are all these patients going to go now? If people are being discharged early due to the bed closures then it is likely they will not recover properly leading them to be back in hospital again at square one.”

The NHS spokesperson added: “In terms of recent changes we acknowledge that staff were informed later than we would have liked, however this was due to operational pressures and the need to take quick action in order to open winter capacity and ensure safe care was delivered.

“Discussions took place between managers, senior ward staff and three staff from Bridlington Hospital who were directly affected to ensure that relocation would fit with their personal circumstances.”

Unite the Union officer, Terry Cunliffe, said: “The plans to expand Bridlington Hospital look to have been reversed. The management are making decisions without any input from inside the hospital. There has been no consultation with staff at the hospital or the Union to ensure.”

The Free Press understands that Sir Greg Knight has been approached regarding the topic.