Staff shortage meant intensive care couldn’t admit some patients

Portrait of Doctor J and ICU doctor at Addenbrookes Hospital

Portrait of Doctor J and ICU doctor at Addenbrookes Hospital - Credit: Heath Rosselli

Staff shortages at Addenbrooke’s Hospital and The Rosie meant that intensive care units were at times unable to accept patients from other hospitals.

In papers released ahead of Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s board of directors’ meeting, it said that staff absence due to sickness and self-isolation continues to be an “area of challenge”.

In Chief Executive Roland Sinker’s report, it said that having the recommended number of nurses to patients in critical care units, including the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, remains an “area of concern”.

It continued that due to the “staffing constraints” both intensive care units have been unable at times to admit regional referrals – patients from other hospitals.

The report also said that the availability of nursing and midwifery staff in particular is still challenging.

It added that on a “shift by shift basis” there are an increasing number of inpatient ward areas that have staffing levels below the recommended establishment prior to any mitigation occurring.

Due to the rising staff absences, the report said the decision was taken to once again temporarily suspend mandatory (with some “specific targeted exceptions”) and non-essential training.

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Staffing levels and the impact on safety is being monitored, and the report said daily site safety meetings take place, with staff being deployed across the hospital to “ensure the safest level of staffing based on acuity of patients”.

The report went on to state that the numbers of staff self-isolating are now “showing signs of stabilising”, after having been rising since mid-November.

The number of staff self-isolating or sick for any reason peaked at eight-percent on January 4.

Mr Sinker also highlighted in his report the thousands of staff members who received the Covid Star, in recognition of their work during the pandemic.

He said: “During December 2021 many colleagues were awarded the Covid Star in recognition and appreciation of their amazing work and dedication during the pandemic.

“This was a humbling experience, a reminder of the personal stories of commitment, compassion, courage and self-sacrifice made across the CUH family.”

The report said that nearly 7,000 staff were able to receive their award in person, adding that the Trust is in the process of sending the awards to those who were unable to attend.

The trust’s board of directors’ is due to take place on Thursday (January 20) at 11am.