PERFORMANCE: Royal Cornwall Hospital has been told to address a shortage of nurses on some wards after a review of care found staff “struggling” to meet the needs of patients.

A Care Quality Commission inspection – sparked by concerns about the welfare of vulnerable patients – concluded the trust was failing to comply with a key quality and safety standard to ensure appropriate staffing levels.

On one ward where patients were “very demanding of staff time”, staff “seemed hard pressed to meet their individual needs”, said the CQC report.

“We saw staff on Wheal Agar ward struggling to meet the demands of patients,” it said. “Many of the patients needed two staff to help them and others were wandering around with no focus.”

One relative reported a patient had soiled themselves after waiting too long for assistance and inspectors witnessed a patient take a piece of electronic equipment from the nurses’ station “which might have been harmful to her or become damaged”.

Staff reported staffing levels went in “peaks and troughs” and said agency workers brought in to help did not always have the skills and experience to look after people with dementia.

Inspectors, who also noted many positive aspects of care, were told a review of staffing levels across the hospital was under way.

Andrew MacCallum, nurse executive at the trust, said the CQC’s observations showed that “notwithstanding the pressures sometimes faced, our staff are clearly committed to and delivering high standards of patient care”.

Efforts to address staffing levels would include recruiting additional nurses, he confirmed.