The staffing crisis is continuing at Stafford Hospital, senior consultant Dr Pradip Singh has alleged.
This is three months after the publication of a damning report by the Healthcare Commission which found budget cuts had led to 400 more patients dying than should have at the hospital.
He has told MPs: ‘It has now become the accepted practice not to expect nurse presence as a matter of course on the ward rounds.
‘This situation puts the consultants in an unacceptable, invidious, and extremely frustrating position.’
The trust cut staff numbers in order to save £10m as part of its bid to become a Foundation Hospital run by the Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.
On June 3rd, the House of Commons Health Committee took evidence from Dr Peter Daggett FRCP, Consultant Physician, Stafford Hospital and Howard Catton, Head of Policy and Implementation, the Royal College of Nursing.
Questioning Daggett, MP Dr Howard Stoate said: ‘I have a letter here from Dr Pradip Singh who submitted this in evidence.
‘You said earlier that you did not think that patient safety had been particularly compromised by some of these issues, but just to quote from him: “I personally reported dozens of serious adverse clinical incidents resulting from abysmal secretarial support in my department, grossly abnormal result, eg CT scan showed possible pancreatic cancer when not shown to consultants for weeks or months”.
‘How could that not have affected patient safety outcomes if possible pancreatic cancer was not even being reported to the consultant for months?’
Daggett replied: ‘I think that is a very specific case. The large majority of the consultants, in regard to this matter, look at their results as they come in on a day-to-day basis.
‘Dr Singh’s practice is different; he is a busy man.’
Stoate continued: ‘He says here, “Many clinicians have felt frustrated for a long time.”
‘He says, “I circulated these issues to my consultant colleagues and I was suspended from work on flimsy grounds without following elementary rules of natural justice” et cetera.
‘The point is that he is saying that he did talk to his consultant colleagues and still nothing happened.’
In his evidence, the RCN’s Catton said: ‘Between 2003 and 2008 there was virtually a year-on-year reduction in the number of nursing staff, somewhere in the region of 200 whole-time equivalents which equates to around about 300 heads.
‘In terms of accident and emergency they took out 17 staff.’