THE children’s ward at Good Hope Hospital is closing for two months due to a lack of appropriately qualified staff.
Heart of England Foundation Trust (HEFT) confirmed that the Harvey Ward will “temporarily” close for inpatients from today (February 1) to ensure children remain “safe”.
The ward requires the equivalent of 23 full-time staff to operate, the Trust confirmed, but at present has the equivalent of 14.4 staff.
Sue Moore, Good Hope hospital director, said: “Temporarily closing the inpatient ward is necessary because the safety of all of our patients and providing a safe service is always of paramount importance.
“The temporary closure of the ward has already been successfully undertaken on two separate occasions over the past six months when nursing levels at Good Hope have been particularly low due to sickness and maternity leave.
“This is a short-term option which will be reviewed on a regular basis depending on further nursing recruitment to increase the pool of available nursing staff. This move will enable the service to maintain adequate, safe nurse staffing levels within paediatrics on both the Good Hope and Heartlands sites.”
The Observer was informed of the closure by a member of staff who asked to remain anonymous. They said staff were told on Tuesday and they believed the move was a “money saving exercise” – an allegation denied by the hospital.
Harvey Ward has 12 inpatient beds and HEFT confirmed that after assessment of all children present yesterday (January 31) one needed to be transferred.
A Trust spokesperson added: “The decision has been taken in response to current issues impacting on our maintenance of safe staffing levels within specialist paediatric nursing. We are currently working hard to resolve this and have just this week recruited five nurses with an advert going out again shortly to ensure all vacancies are filled as soon as possible.
“The closure of the ward is purely a reaction to the current numbers of vacant posts across the service, alongside absences for sickness and maternity leave.
“We can confirm there has been no block on recruiting to paediatric nursing vacancies within the Trust and that on-going attempts have been made to recruit to the total level of vacancies within the service.
“This Trust is not unusual in experiencing difficulties in recruiting qualified paediatric nurses.”
The Trust said that 97 per cent
of young patients seen at Good Hope do not require admission to hospital and the closure should affect “one or two patients per day”.
These patients will now be assessed at Good Hope Hospital and admitted to Heartlands Hospital’s paediatric service.
HEFT further said the average length of stay for paediatrics at Good Hope is one day.
Staff currently employed on the Harvey Ward will staff the hospital’s children’s assessment unit, which will “run as normal through peak periods”.
In addition they will provide cover in the hospital’s children’s A&E overnight with any remaining staff being “redeployed” to help on the children’s ward at Heartlands Hospital.