12 Aug 2022

Nurse claims bed closures in Altnagelvin are caused by staff absences due to stress

A nurse working in Altnagelvin Hospital has claimed that there have been bed closures at the hospital due to nursing staff having to take time off work with stress-related conditions. The Western Trust member of nursing staff, who did not wish to be named, claimed there were multiple bed closures on wards because of the lack of nursing staff, many on sick leave for stress-related matters. “We are under a lot of pressure and it’s inevitable that the cracks are going to show,” said the nurse. “The continual pressure we are under due to severe cuts to the NHS is having a detrimental effect on nursing staff. “We need to be able to be at our best to care for others but when we are so stressed that we can’t do our jobs properly, we don’t want to put our patients’ lives at risk.” A spokesperson for the Western Health and Social Care Trust (Western Trust) said: “During the summer months, the number of beds that are available within the hospital fluctuates to cater for patient demand, and is influenced by a range of factors such as nurse staffing vacancies, sickness absence and annual leave provision for both permanent and agency staff. “The safety of our patients is a fundamental priority for the Trust. For this reason, it is necessary to assess safe staffing of wards on a shift by shift basis and if necessary, temporarily close beds, a practice that is common to many parts of the UK. This process is reviewed on an ongoing basis, and closed beds are reopened as staffing levels improve. “The number of beds we have closed at any point in time varies from zero to 35 across the hospital footprint and this week we had 32 beds closed at one point. “The Trust has a monthly recruitment process for staff nurses and looks forward to newly qualified nurses commencing employment in September 2018.”

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