HEALTH workers’ leaders slammed government NHS cuts yesterday after Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge was found to be “inadequate” and placed in special measures.
As reported in yesterday’s Morning Star, Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors reported staff shortages, faulty equipment, cancelled operations, closed wards, and even dangerously high levels of a toxic gas used as a pain-killer.
Pregnant women were found to be put at risk by the issues, with the closure of the hospital’s maternity unit and a shortage of midwives forcing patients to be diverted elsewhere several times.
The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) said it was “deeply concerned” if a Trust on a regular basis could not meet recommended staffing ratios — staff shortages have forced ward closures at Addenbrooke’s.
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis placed blame firmly on the government.
He said: “This is a shocking indictment of the government’s cavalier attitude towards the NHS that a hospital like Addenbrooke’s, with its world-class reputation, should find itself in special measures.”
Hospitals are facing hugely increased costs and demand while having to find £20 billion in savings.
Staff shortages have forced hospitals to hire expensive agency nurses, while the government clamps down on nurses coming to Britain from non-EU countries.
Hospitals have to pay anything from £2,000 to £5,000 to agencies in return for supplying a long-term staff member.
Cambridge Acute Hospitals spokeswomen Helen Chittock and Carole Proctor said: “The government is expecting the Trust to cope with budgets that are decreasing proportional to demand.
“Meanwhile the Care Quality Commission is expecting the Trust to cope with this significantly increased demand on services. This creates the perfect storm and sets the Trust up to fail.
“One element of the report graded as ‘Outstanding’ focused on the hard work, kindness and dedication of the staff here at CUH. Throughout the Trust issues, the staff remain focused on patient care and this has been acknowledged by the CQC.”
Cambridge Keep Our NHS Public’s Hilary Price, a retired nurse with 40 years of service, also accused the government of orchestrating a “pincer movement” between the CQC and health regulator Monitor to undermine Addenbrooke’s as an NHS hospital.