The Daily Telegraph

NHS staff crisis


SIR – I am an NHS intensive care consultant working in a large teaching hospital. On Monday I was scheduled to provide care to patients in theatre for urgent cases who are deteriorat­ing and, sadly, on occasion dying while they wait for treatment. Our usually short waiting list has now surpassed 500 urgent cases.

However, there are no intensive care beds for these patients to be admitted to following their surgery. We have 14 beds, but half are unstaffed, primarily because of a chronic shortage of nurses and, to some extent, doctors who are required in order to provide this post-operative care.

No amount of money will resolve these problems unless there is a fundamenta­l improvemen­t in university capacity for medical and nurse training. The NHS has spent the past 20 years recruiting staff from abroad because of chronic shortages in Britain, but these warning signs have been ignored. It is therefore no surprise that with the slightest stress on the NHS, the system implodes.

Medical and nursing staff are on their knees after 18 months of difficult work. Asking them to work more hours for low pay, at a time when they will be taxed more in return, is unlikely to be an effective strategy.

Dr David Courtney London SW1

SIR – The news that nearly 50 per cent of NHS staff are not clinically qualified (report, September 10) confirms my worst fears. I was a governor of my district hospital for six years, but was disillusio­ned by its bureaucrac­y. For instance, reports for our monthly governors’ meetings were typically 200 pages long. It became impossible to see the wood for the trees.

I reached a point where I could no longer keep trying to justify the regular accusation­s from my constituen­ts about the surfeit of managers in the hospital trust during a period in which waiting times to see consultant­s and clinicians could be measured in months – and in some cases even years – rather than weeks.

The trust’s PR machine prohibited me from speaking out about my concerns, and so I decided to resign publicly as a protest, for which gesture I received considerab­le support from fellow governors of the hospital. Nicholas Sherman

Salisbury, Wiltshire

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