A 14-bed ward at Lambert Memorial Hospital will temporarily close this month (September 2015) to address patient safety concerns due to staffing pressures.
The ward, which provides general rehabilitation, assessment of patients’ present and future care needs, diagnostics, drug initiation and administration, pain control and palliative care, is currently open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
However the service is currently under enormous strain due to a number of issues including difficulty in filling vacant nursing posts, long-term sickness/absence leave and getting sufficient temporary nursing cover through NHS Professionals.
Despite a number of actions being taken in recent months to try and address the staffing problem, the current situation has made it impossible to continue to run a safe, high quality service and the ward will temporarily close early next week. No other services at the hospital in Thirsk are affected.
Six additional beds will also be opened on the Rutson Ward at the Friarage Hospital.
Chief executive Professor Tricia Hart said: “This decision has not been taken lightly and is entirely based on the safety and welfare of patients and also the wellbeing of our staff.
“In recent months we’ve done a number of things to try and mitigate the risks on the service, including nursing staff from other hospitals providing cover, but this is now unsustainable and a key patient safety concern for us.
“Already no new patients are being transferred onto the ward and while we had hoped to close towards the end of September, a worsening staffing situation has meant it’s likely the ward will close early next week.
“This means we will have to move one or two patients to the Friarage Hospital for the remainder of their stay although the staff at the Lambert will accompany the patients to the hospital and continue their care.
“We know this will be disappointing for the residents of Thirsk and surrounding area but must stress this is only a temporary measure. Our first priority has to be patient safety and the service will be reviewed again in January 2016.”
The temporary arrangements have been discussed with the trust’s service commissioners, Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby CCG, local GPs and North Yorkshire County Council’s scrutiny of health committee.