Hospitals forced to cut night cover due to staff shortages

Hospitals have been forced to reduce medical cover on wards at night or reduce training for junior doctors because they cannot recruit locum and agency staff, HSJ has learned.

The news comes as junior doctors strike for 48 hours over the government’s plans to impose a new contract, with an estimated 5,000 inpatient and outpatient appointments cancelled.

Both Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals Foundation Trust and Oxford University Hospitals FT have been forced to take action because of staff shortages.

Basildon has had to reduce nightshift cover for its general medicine wards because of 18 vacancies.

It has had to cut the number of speciality doctors in general medicine available at night from 22 to 13 across the total rota, meaning only one specialty doctor will be available.

An email from the trust’s medical staff coordinator sent last month, and leaked to HSJ, said: “Due to a failure to recruit to our 18 vacant posts, and also unable to find agency cover for most of these posts, we have had to reduce the speciality doctor cover at night to one doctor (reduction from 22 doctors to 13 doctors on the rota).”

The email added: “The remaining speciality doctor at night will still supervise the ward juniors as required and will help with clerking when not seeing sick patients on the wards.”

Full story in the HSJ 10 March 2016