Community nurses have been drafted into key roles across hospital wards – with pressure mounting due to the winter weather.
District nurses and non-clinical staff, who normally work in schools or in the community, are being employed on wards to help full-time nurses cope with an increase in patients.
The move is happening across two hospital sites, with both University Hospital of Hartlepool and the University Hospital of North Tees utilising the extra nurses.
Both hospitals are managed by North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, with the trust last week cutting the pay for ‘bank’ nurses from £20 to £14.
Although hospital bosses insist this hasn’t had an impact, a steady stream of patients from Hartlepool are being treated in Stockton as a result of the trust’s plan to centralise some services.
The trust insists it is not unusual to draft in staff from elsewhere, and said it was “grateful” for the help during the busy winter period.
Julie Gillon, deputy chief executive and chief operating officer for North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Just like the whole country is under pressure, so is the trust.
“We start our winter planning very early to make sure we can deal with a rise in demand and we work together to make sure we can look after our patients.
“Staff from different areas working on wards is part of our plan when demand increases.
“Colleagues are working hard to support each other and ensure our patients get the care they need.
“Many clinical and non-clinical staff have been helping on wards where there have been additional pressures and we are very grateful for this.
“I would like to pay tribute to our staff, both in our hospitals and in our community services, who, as always, are doing a fantastic job in very challenging circumstances.”
The trust admitted last week that three wards across the two hospital sites were unable to take any more patients with concerns over a sickness bug.
By Liam Corcoran