Cornwall NHS services face extreme pressure amidst national workforce crisis

Ambulances waiting to discharge patients at Royal Cornwall Hospital

Health managers in Cornwall have said staff shortages and bed blocking are causing the increased pressure being faced by NHS services across the county.

It comes as a new report by a committee of cross-party MPs has said NHS England is facing the greatest workforce crisis in its history and that understaffing is creating a serious risk to staff and patient safety.

The report coincides with the summer holidays, during a time when NHS services across Cornwall are facing immense pressure and an influx of visitors.

Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro is currently facing extreme pressure. Yesterday (26 July), there were 66 patients in the emergency department, facing a waiting time of more than two and a half hours.

More than a dozen ambulances could also be seen waiting to discharge patients, resulting in hospital staff putting out a plea for people to consider alternatives to arriving at A&E, such as using the 111 service.

The hospital also faces staff shortages, with 150 roles in need of filling, but health managers say this issue is not a new one.

Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro (Treliske) is the biggest hospital in Cornwall providing emergency and specialist healthcare. Credit: PA Images

Mario Dunn from Health Watch Cornwall said: "The report is very disappointing but not a surprise, there's been a shortage of staff for the NHS for a long time now."

"It's caused many problems, particularly in Cornwall. We're also seeing beds at full capacity which is caused by so many beds being taken up by people who shouldn't be in them, but they have nowhere to go.

"There are currently 250 beds occupied by people who are perfectly capable of leaving hospital but have no onward care package so the hospital can't even take new patients in."

In the report, MPs said that England is currently short of 12,000 hospital doctors and 50,000 nurses or midwives.

In response, the Department for Health and Social Care said it's increasing the amount of medics in the NHS.

It said there are currently 4,000 more doctors in hospitals now compared to a year ago, nearly 10,000 extra nurses and midwives and 14,000 extra GPs. NHS England is now working on a long-term recruitment plan.