Hospital trust struggling to recruit nurses

Royal Sussex County Hospital, Eastern Road, Brighton (July 2015) by Hassocks5489 on Wikimedia Commons, licenced by Creative Commons
Royal Sussex County Hospital, Eastern Road, Brighton (July 2015) by Hassocks5489 on Wikimedia Commons, licenced by Creative Commons

Recruiting new nurses is proving a challenge for Brighton and Sussex University Hospital Trust.

Despite a national and international recruitment drive, as of April there were still 260 vacancies for registered nurses, the trust board heard at its meeting last week.

In an effort to keep costs down the trust has stopped using agency staff at Royal Sussex County Hospital and has used fewer than ten a week at Princess Royal Hospital.

During the next four months, 40 Filipino nurses are starting, the majority at Princess Royal.

Chief nurse Nicola Ranger said: “We are still a little reliant on overseas recruitment.

“Far fewer nurses are coming from Europe where we have had success before.”

To keep nurse to patient ratios at safe and acceptable levels, senior nursing managers are working on the wards.

At night more registered nurses are on duty along with significantly more health care assistants.

Staffing is discussed three times a day and adjusted when required to ensure a ratio of seven patients to each registered nurse, not including high-dependency wards.

Student nurse recruitment is also an issue in the city.

One issue highlighted to the board is the low ranking of Brighton University’s nursing degree in league tables.

It is currently ranked 46th by the Complete Universities Guide, 57th by The Times and 65th by The Guardian.

Ms Ranger said that the trust was working closely with other universities and recruiting graduates from Surrey and Southampton.

When speaking about training she said: “We do need to get this a bit better.

“If you’re paying for a degree, you are going to look at the league tables.”

In an effort to improve its ranking she said that senior staff were being encouraged to supervise students by observing, to encourage learning by doing.

Sarah Booker-Lewis is the Local Democracy Reporter for Brighton & Hove.

For more of her stories, click here.