More staff needed to help fill Hinchingbrooke Hospital's recruitment gap

MANAGERS at Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon want healthcare professionals to return to their previous callings to help fill a recruitment gap. Figures produced by chief executive Mark Millar for Cambridgeshire County Council s health scrutiny commit

MANAGERS at Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon want healthcare professionals to return to their previous callings to help fill a recruitment gap.

Figures produced by chief executive Mark Millar for Cambridgeshire County Council's health scrutiny committee on Thursday show the hospital has been consistently between 60 and 100 short of the number of people it needs over the past two years.

The most recent figures, for December last year, show that the hospital was employing the equivalent of just over 1,430 people - nearly 80 shy of the 'budgeted establishment'.

And on Saturday it will be holding an open day at the hospital to encourage qualified nurses and other healthcare professionals to return to the NHS.


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"We know there are people who have taken career breaks to have children, and we can be flexible about working hours to fit in with those commitments," he told The Hunts Post.

"Nurse recruitment is a continual challenge," he added, though nurses recruited from Spain in a special drive two years ago are now encouraging their friends and former colleagues to join them at Hinchingbrooke.

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Shortages of nursing staff have generated a number of problems in the past, a difficulty the hospital is determined to address.

Mr Millar will identify several areas in which Hinchingbrooke has made progress since the 2007 hospital rescue plan that he helped to mastermind.

And he will show councillors the evidence to explain the hospital's bafflement at being ranked poorly in a recent survey of mortality rates, particularly when compared to Addenbrooke's in Cambridge.

He will demonstrate consistent improvement in infection control - Hinchingbrooke is one of the few hospitals in the area not to have had to close wards this winter because of norovirus (winter vomiting disease) - and in meeting its target in rebuilding much of the hospital to meet higher standards, patient dignity and gender separation targets.

Only in the number of patients staying in hospital after they are fit to leave has there been deterioration in the figures. So far in 2009/10 there have been 293 patients suffering 'delayed transfer of care' because they could not be adequately care for at home or in the community, compared with just 74 in the equivalent period the previous year.

But a concerted effort with NHS Cambridgeshire to get the number down has been dramatically successful. "On Friday, delayed discharges were down to seven," Mr Millar told The Hunts Post.

In spite of such problems with in-patient beds, Hinchingbrooke is set once again to meet its target for 98 per cent of accident and emergency patients to be dealt with within four hours of arrival. This year's record is even better than last year, when the challenging target was also met.

"Hinchingbrooke is still moving forward," its chief added, "but there's still some way to go.

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