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Staff Vacancies Making A&E Delays Worse

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7:04am 7th January 2015

Cornwall's biggest hospital admits it is not just struggling to see patients - it is struggling to get staff too.

Pirate FM told you how Treliske, along with many other hospitals across the UK, has missed its target to see A&E patients inside four hours.

Now we have learnt some of that is due to having two empty vacancies for casualty consultants.

Andy Virr is in charge of the department. He said: "We're just reflecting the national picture where there is a shortage of A&E consultants.

"A lot of hospitals are investing in A&E consultants because they think it is right to have senior decision makers at the front door. But it is from a limited pool of available people.

"There is not a lack of commitment to pay for that - the money is there - we just can't fill the posts.

"Equally, across the hospital, we have invested in putting extra nursing staff on the wards to make our wards even safer but we are also in a struggle to recruit up those numbers."

He blamed delays at casualty on struggling to fill the posts, along with a big rise in patient numbers along with the time taken to discharge those already admitted to the hospital.

It comes as Labour calls for an emergency summit to find ways to ease the pressure on struggling A&E departments.

A number of hospital trusts have declared "major incidents" as they struggle to cope with the rising number of admissions in accident and emergency departments.

David Cameron has admitted the NHS is under pressure following the release of figures showing waiting times at A&E in England have hit their worst level in 10 years.

But he dismissed claims the service is on the brink of disaster.

The Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham has published a letter accusing his opposite number of failing to anticipate the current problems.

Reports of fire engines and police cars being increasingly used as ambulances raised "major patient and public safety concerns", Mr Burnham wrote.

"Patients are already being exposed to unacceptable levels of risk and the situation cannot be allowed to get any worse.

"Urgent action is needed to provide a coordinated response across Government from all public services."

Mr Burnham said the summit needed to include representatives from the police, fire and ambulance services as well as NHS professionals.

The latest figures on A&E waiting times showed just 92.6% of patients were treated within the four-hour time limit against a target of 95%.

The British Medical Association said the records showed the "unprecedented levels of pressure" on the health service and the Royal College of Nursing said the system was in "crisis".

But Mr Cameron said there was a "short-term pressure issue which we need to meet with resources and management".

7:04am 7th January 2015

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