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Mental health staff in Suffolk and Norfolk too busy to complete mandatory life support training

PUBLISHED: 17:41 22 February 2018 | UPDATED: 17:41 22 February 2018

Hellesdon Hospital, headquarters of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust. Picture: JAMES BASS

Hellesdon Hospital, headquarters of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust. Picture: JAMES BASS

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2009

Clinicians at the region’s mental health trust are too busy to complete mandatory basic life support training, it has been revealed.

Dawn Collins, interim director of nursing, quality and patient safety. Photo: NSFTDawn Collins, interim director of nursing, quality and patient safety. Photo: NSFT

Just 72% of eligible staff at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) have sat the compulsory course, which shows participants what to do if a patient suffers a critical illness or injury.

The issue was discussed during a meeting of the trust’s board of directors in Ipswich today.

Mark Gammage, human resources advisor, said the problem was not space on the courses but the release of staff from their duties to undertake them.

The trust is offering paid overtime during February to the end of April for clinical staff to sit the course, or to cover for colleagues while they complete it.

Medical director Bohdan Solomka. Picture: KEITH WHITMOREMedical director Bohdan Solomka. Picture: KEITH WHITMORE

Mr Gammage said this incentive “should and must” address the shortfall.

Interim director of nursing and patient safety, Dawn Collins, added: “All staff in inpatient areas have mandatory intermediate life support training, however we are not compliant in all areas at 100%.”

Non-executive director Jill Robinson raised concerns that the report discussed at the meting was putting out “false assurances” over the trust’s recruitment problems because of the way the data was presented.

She said: “We are significantly below target but it looks really hunky dory so maybe we need something in the dashboard to indicate it’s not as rosy as it looks.”

Chairman Gary Page. Picture: LUCY TAYLORChairman Gary Page. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

Chairman Gary Page agreed: “If you look at this you wouldn’t know there were parts of the trust where they are very high vacancy levels, you would assume we are OK.”

NSFT is expected to exceed its medical locum spending cap in 2017/18, but should remain within budget on agency staff as a whole.

In the year to date, the trust has spent more than £6.4 million on temporary qualified nursing and medical staff, with the top reason for booking noted as unfilled vacancies.

Medical director Bohdan Solomka said: “The concern is the nature of the negotiations that we are being pulled into. I don’t want to overstate it but we are sometimes given very little choice but to up the rate for a particular locum and that’s a behaviour that the GMC [General Medical Council] say they are interested in.”

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