Nursing shortage shuts cancer units

Ealing Hospital Christmas picket – the hospital’s Charlie Chaplin Children’s Ward is one of many paediatric departments closed around the country
Ealing Hospital Christmas picket – the hospital’s Charlie Chaplin Children’s Ward is one of many paediatric departments closed around the country

CHILDREN’S wards and cancer units are closing hand over fist across the entire country with the nurses union RCN warning that ‘skeleton staffing’ means putting patients lives at risk.

Donna Kinnair, the RCN’s acting chief executive said: ‘Every day brings fresh and devastating examples of patients paying the highest price for staffing shortage.

‘There are no benefits to running the NHS on a skeleton staff and refusing to acknowledge that means the ultimate losers, as ward closures around England show, are patients.’

Donna Kinnair, is acting chief executive, as the RCN membership forced the leadership to call an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) over the pay deal betrayal and then it sacked the lot of them!

The removal of the student nurses’ and midwives’ bursary, low pay, overwork and staff shortages has driven nurses out of the profession, to the point where the union says that the UK is already 30,000 nurses short.

In one example of a vital cancer service being shut because of lack of staff, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) in King’s Lynn, Norfolk is threatened with closure. This will mean that patients with cancer who would usually have surgery at the QEH will face 80-mile round trips, after the trust said it has tried and failed to attract enough nurses to work there.

Peter Passingham, a regional organiser with the union Unison, said the switch of services would be ‘a body blow’. The plan sparked a mass protest in King’s Lynn on Saturday. There are examples across the country of cuts and closures due to lack of funds and staff.

The A&E unit at Princess Royal Hospital in Telford starts closing overnight in December meaning that Wolverhampton’s New Cross Hospital will have to take the strain. Dorset HealthCare NHS trust is phasing out the 16-bed Saxon Ward at Wareham Community Hospital because of a lack of nurses.

In Scotland, almost 1,000 children have had to be transferred to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh from St John’s Hospital in Livingston, west Lothian, since its children’s inpatient ward closed in July 2017 as a result of staffing problems.

In London Chase Farm Hospital in Enfield has lost its children’s ward, A&E and maternity and at Ealing Hospital in west London, the Charlie Chaplin Children’s Ward shut in the summer of 2016.

Dr Rob Harwood, chair of the British Medical Association’s consultants committee, said: ‘The NHS is already chronically understaffed, and this is inevitably impacting upon hospitals and their ability to adequately staff departments and services.

‘If a hospital can’t fill rotas because they don’t have the staff, then services are eventually bound to be compromised and patient care will suffer. ‘Patients expect to be able to be treated at a hospital local to them, not to have to travel many miles at what may already be a stressful time for them, but that may not always be possible if hospitals have too few staff.’