Reduction in opening hours is the ‘first step on a slippery slope’ for East Cleveland hospital

Temporary changes have been made to the opening times of the urgent care centre at East Cleveland Primary Care Hospital and Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, described the news as “extremely concerning” and a “sign of the pressure our local NHS is currently under”.

Tom said:
“This is really bad news for the hospital and East Cleveland residents. For the hospital to operate a 24hr urgent care service, it needs 3.1 whole time equivalent (wte) urgent care trained nurses. Yet the Trust only has the equivalent of less than half (1.5 wte) urgent care trained nurses currently working at the hospital – and those three nurses are rotated into Redcar. This has left a hole that was being filled with temporary staff, who now need to be deployed to Guisborough, to cover the vacant care post there – otherwise they would have a further reduction in opening hours. It is almost beyond parody how stretched services have become in recent years.

“There seems to be a number of issues at play. Obviously there is the huge financial pressure placed on trusts to handle the Tory-led top-down reorganisation of the NHS, but I also have concerns over the provision of appropriately trained nurses. Why haven’t the vacant roles been filled? Is it to do with funding, or is there a shortage of suitably trained staff?

“Furthermore, the timing of this change couldn’t be worse. As the festive period approaches and the weather becomes more dangerous, provision of urgent care is vital. Suggesting a patient could face having to traipse all the way to James Cook University Hospital from East Cleveland is a frightening prospect.

“I have requested an urgent meeting with the Secretary of State for Health to discuss the situation and to urge him to take action to end this juggling act of staff between hospitals before something seriously goes wrong.”

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