'We just haven’t got the staff' - Nurses at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital speak out over pressures

Queues of ambulances line up outside the emergency department at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital as patients wait to be treated
Queues of ambulances outside Gloucestershire Royal Hospital Credit: ITV West Country

Nurses working at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital say the pressures are so bad staff are leaving the profession.

Queues of up to 25 ambulances have been reported at the hospital this year and emergency service chiefs have called for more hospital and care home beds to help ease the pressure.

A nurse, who does not wish to be named out of fear of reprisals, says the situation is having a huge impact on their welfare and bosses are not taking on board their concerns.

They said: “People don’t want to work in this environment. We have set up so many mentorship and support courses but the leadership never supports any of it.

“The culture has changed so much. It used to be a team and now it’s very much everyone to their own.

“Ambulance handover times are worse but we just haven’t got the staff. I think the emergency department (ED) is the biggest problem we have in the hospital.

“This has been a problem for a while. The bosses don’t listen.

“There are people who have been with us who are from a military background who have resilience built into them and they say they can’t do it. It’s such a hard job.

“On any given day we should have nine registered nurses and four healthcare assistants. At the moment we are running with three. This is why we get bank and agency staff in.

“They don’t cover our shifts. It is such a hostile environment at the moment that nobody wants to come and work with us.

“That has a knock on effect and impact on morale. We can’t see to our patients as much as we would like.

“I’ve seen there have been a lot of stories about poor care in the emergency department and sadly we can’t deny it.

“No one is ever horrible to patients but we just can’t give them the care we want to. There is just not enough of us.

There are concerns over a lack of staff at the hospital Credit: ITV West Country

“It’s a constant battle all the time. We just want things to change for the better.

“We feel speaking out publicly is the only way we will get our leadership to listen. We have done everything we can internally, we’ve spoken to our leaders about our concerns and nothing is ever done about it.

“This has been going on for a while now but we cannot carry on like this anymore.”

Chief executive Deborah Lee says there is no doubt that the health and care system in Gloucestershire is under immense pressure.

Ms Lee says this is in part due to high demand as well as the high number of patients who are ready to leave our hospitals and receive onward care in the community but for whom their discharge is delayed.

She said: “I know that all staff come to work each day to do a good job, to make a positive impact and when they can’t do that, they feel that they’ve let their patients down.

“We know how difficult it can be and we’d like to remind colleagues in ED how incredibly proud we are of the work that they do, especially in these most challenging of circumstances.

“Despite the challenges we are absolutely determined to get this right for our patients and to create the conditions where staff can give the quality of care that they aspire to.

“Considerable effort is going into making improvements. For example, on ambulance handover times we’ve significantly reduced the length of time it takes to offload patients from ambulances and we know that this is saving lives and preventing disability for those patients waiting for ambulances but we also know it has put our ED and wards under more pressure.”

Ms Lee recognises that the trust has vacancies but says they are working hard to fill those positions.

She said: “Where we do have vacancies, we are working hard to recruit to these and where there are gaps, we continue to staff from our own hospital bank and temporary staffing agencies to ensure we are able to provide the necessary level of care.

“We are aware of the negative experience that some staff have been exposed to which has also been reflected in the national staff survey and as such have received, and continue to receive the leadership’s full attention.

“We are determined to move towards a more positive culture which focuses on fairness, openness and learning, and have a clear plan to deliver this improvement.

“We know that if we get this right, it will improve the safety and quality of all of our services and make Gloucestershire Hospitals a place staff want to work and recommend to others.

“We will continue to work closely with our staff and partners to provide the kind of care and experience we all want for our patients and staff.”

Credit: Local Democracy Reporter Service/Carmelo Garcia