HSJ’s round-up of the day’s must read stories and talking points

Bridging the gap

That the NHS needs more nurses will come as no surprise to NHS leaders, clinicians or indeed patients. But new data from NHS Digital has given an indication of the extent of problem on the front line, with 29,000 nurse and midwife vacancies advertised on the NHS Jobs website between January and March this year.

It means that each month the NHS is advertising between 9,000 and 10,000 nursing jobs – there are approximately 300,000 nurses, midwives and health visitors in the health service.

The next largest group for vacancies across the first three months of the year was administrative and clerical staff with 17,510 ads. This was followed by 9,369 for medical and dental staff.

Monthly data on the total number of adverts across England since April 2015 shows the number of ads each month peaked at 29,602 in July 2015 – but overall has remained roughly stable since the data collection began in February 2015.

NHS Digital, which published the data, warned there was likely undercounting of the number of vacancies as some staff groups such as nursing had one advert for multiple roles.

Meanwhile, new workforce data has also shown continued substantive recruitment of nursing staff – with data for May showing 3,300 full-time equivalent nursing and health visitors employed in the NHS than in May 2015.

Damning inspection for private hospital

An independent children’s mental health hospital was placed in special measures on Wednesday, after a highly critical inspection found safety concerns including staff shortages and overuse of restraint on patients.

CQC inspectors visited Huntercombe Hospital in Stafford after a member of staff raised “serious concerns” about patient safety.

The hospital provides CAMHS services and takes children and young people detained under the mental health act as part of NHS England’s specialised mental health services.

Following a series of day and night inspections in the spring, the CQC rated the hospital inadequate overall and in all five categories it assesses: safe; effective; caring; responsive; and well led.

The CQC inspection report found:

  • Patients felt staff overused restraint as a first rather than last response, and showed inspectors bruising on their arms.
  • Staff shortages meant wards were not operating with minimum staffing levels, with some ward shifts run with just one qualified nurse.
  • Medication was not always securely stored.
  • Personal searches failed to stop patients from obtaining banned items they could self-harm with.
  • The multidisciplinary team was not meeting the needs of young patients.
  • Patients said staff were uncaring and carers described their behaviour as “punitive”.
  • Governance systems were not operating with sufficient authority to be effective.

A spokesman for the hospital said: “We deeply regret that some aspects of the service had fallen below the high standards that we are committed to provide. We are confident that the [hospital] has been turned around by the strengthened management team and it has made good progress towards returning to the standards we expect of it.”