The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust is continuing its efforts to recruit additional staff to keep Telford’s A&E department open overnight.
The department currently remains open 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week. However, the A&E could close between 8pm and 8am because of staffing issues which have been having an increasing impact on the safe care of patients over a number of years.
Should an overnight closure be unavoidable, it would not happen until some time in November.
The Trust says it is continuing to work closely with MPs and councillors to both to try to avoid the overnight closure and to reduce any impact as much as possible, should it become necessary.
Clinicians at SaTH believe that both Emergency Departments – at PRH and at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital – could be maintained in the short-term if the Trust had a minimum of seven additional levels Middle Grade Doctors – taking staffing levels up from 11 to 18 and a minimum of 15 more Registered A&E Nurses.
However, that would only address the immediate problems in the short-term solution, with a longer-term solution still needed.
Carol McInnes, Assistant Chief Operating Officer for Unscheduled Care at SaTH, said: “Nobody at SaTH wants to go ahead with the overnight closure and we are not just sitting back and letting it happen. We will continue to work hard until we have exhausted every conceivable option.
“We are continuing to talk to partners across the health system to see if there is any way of addressing the immediate problem and we are also continuing with recruitment efforts for both doctors and nurses to increase staffing in the medium to long-term.
“Should we be unable to avoid the overnight closure, we are also still looking at every way in which we can keep the impact to our patients to an absolute minimum. This includes looking at what options we can offer for people who need urgent, but not emergency, care, out of hours.”
The decision to approve the overnight closure of the A&E at PRH was taken at last month’s meeting of the Trust Board.
Dr Kevin Eardley, Medical Director for Unscheduled Care, said: “This is not where we want to be but we have been very clear for some time now about the fragility of the EDs at RSH and PRH, and that we cannot continue to operate both sites overnight in the long-term with staffing levels as they are.
“We don’t have enough doctors and nurses to safely staff both of our A&Es 24-hours-a day, seven-days-a-week and, as a result, we are relying on the goodwill of our medical and nursing staff to keep those services running. This has put them under enormous pressure, and is no longer sustainable.”
“I want to reassure everyone that our business continuity plans have been under constant review, and robustly tested, to ensure that there will be as little impact on patients as possible.