February 8, 2018 11.13 am This story is over 52 months old

Lincolnshire NHS staff crisis: Hospitals struggle to fill 16% of 900 vacancies

They’re struggling to fill even a fifth of the vacancies.

The trust which runs hospitals in Lincolnshire filled less than two in every 10 full time equivalent (FTE) vacancies in the last four months.

United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust is currently advertising 753 FTE vacancies compared with a staggering 901 in September 2017, a 16% difference.

The biggest proportion of staffing shortages was logged in the registered nursing and midwifery field, where vacancies have in fact increased by 7%, from 295 to 317.

Nursing and midwifery roles account for 42% of total FTE vacancies at ULHT.

ULHT said it recognises a long-standing issue with staffing, with bosses putting shortages down to an increased goal for the preferred number of clinical staff at the trust and challenges with selling rural areas to trained professionals.

Figures were released by NHS Digital, the national provider of information on the NHS.

The trust recorded the second highest number of vacancies compared with all other health organisations in the East Midlands in between April and September 2017.

Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust had the highest at 1,600.

There were 11,421 vacancies in total in the East Midlands, plus 790 at the Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust.

In Lincolnshire, the figures were:

  • Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust (LCHS) – 491
  • Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (LPFT) – 341
  • East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) – 111
  • Lincolnshire East Clinical Commissioning Group (LECCG) – 22
  • South West Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group (SWLCCG) – 13
  • Lincolnshire West Clinical Commissioning Group (LWCCG) – 8
  • South Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group (SLCCG) – 7

Across the country, there were 28,242 full time equivalent vacancies, of which 40% (11,247) were in the nursing and midwifery registered field.

Staffing shortages have recently been blamed for controversial reductions in hospital services like the overnight closure of Grantham A&E. 

‘Medical school would help recruitment’

United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust chief executive Jan Sobieraj

Jan Sobieraj, Chief Executive of United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust, said he recognised the issue of staffing shortages in the trust, as well as nationally.

He also told The Lincolnite he is supportive of the mission to bring a medical school to the county in order to train doctors at a local level.

“Our vacancy rates have been coming down over the last year and we continue to work hard to overcome a longstanding shortage of clinical staff at ULHT in the context of large national vacancies, including around 11,000 nurse vacancies across the country.

“One of the reasons we have a high number of vacancies is because we have reviewed our staffing and have increased the ideal number of clinical staff we’d want to have in each clinical area. The trust retention rates of staff are good and we are working hard to recruit to those posts.

“A lot of work has already gone into reducing our vacancies:

  • Over the last two years we’ve recruited 190 newly qualified nurses from local universities.
  • In July 2017, the Trust has 606 registered nurses on its bank (a place where our staff can register to carry out extra duties), but that has increased to an impressive 1,050 by January 2018. This has resulted in many more shifts being filled by bank staff (the Trust’s own staff) rather than agency nurses which is safer for patients as well as being more cost effective.
  • We have more consultants, more middle grade doctors, more health care professionals (including therapists) and more non-registered nurses working at the Trust than 12 months ago.

“The trust has a large number of vacancies. We aren’t alone, as there is a national shortage of many speciality doctors and nurses and there isn’t going to be an influx of staff in the short to medium term to fill all the vacancies.

“So we are being as imaginative as possible to recruit and retain our staff. We providing nursing cadet apprenticeships, nursing associate roles, new orthopaedic acute care practitioners, occupational therapists/physio apprenticeships, pharmacy technician development, providing A&E masters’ and rural health certificates for junior doctors.

“ULHT has partnered with the a range of national and local agencies to create a National Centre for Rural Health and Care.

“This innovation is aimed at tackling NHS staffing shortages, and finding new and exciting ways of recruiting staff in healthcare by making “rural” a key selling point to attract new NHS staff to work in our hospitals.

“We are very supportive of the development of a medical school for Lincolnshire, as we have a shortage of doctors and believe a locally-based school will help us with recruitment and retention.”