Nurses drafted in to keep plans on track

Sheffield Children's Hospital extension plans.''Design 5
Sheffield Children's Hospital extension plans.''Design 5
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Nurses are being recruited and extra beds provided as a Sheffield hospital looks to increase the number of patients treated.

Sheffield Children’s Hospital chiefs want to take on additional nursing staff to keep open a larger number of beds, as well as reinstating previously closed surgical beds, allowing patient numbers to carry on rising while a £40 million expansion scheme gets under way.

The measures form part of Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust’s strategic plan for the next three years, which continues the hospital’s drive to become one of the country’s leading providers of specialist healthcare.

Bosses hope to achieve the goal, despite having to make savings of £6.6m this year, from its budget of £158m.

A report to the trust’s board of directors said referrals to the hospital’s services have increased by 20 per cent over the last five years – with a 4 per cent rise in the last year alone.

Isabel Hemmings, chief operating officer and author of the report, said: “Given the constraints of the hospital currently, there is a risk the number of beds will be insufficient to meet the needs of patient activity over the next two years, prior to the completion of the new hospital ward block.

“During 2012/13, problems arose with insufficient bed capacity, particularly given a shortfall in nursing staff due to difficulties in recruitment.

“In order to mitigate that risk in the coming year, we will appoint additional nursing staff, so we may keep a higher number of short-stay beds open throughout the year, and we will reopen some surgical beds which had previously been closed.”

The hospital has set nursing as one of its priorities for this year and wants to invest in ward sisters and charge nurses, as well as freeing them up from other duties to ‘provide a visible ward presence’.

Ms Hemmings said: “While we have challenging financial issues to address along with the NHS as a whole, we recognise the importance of high-calibre clinical leadership.

“Over the next two years, we’ve made the decision to invest in senior clinical time, giving ward sisters more time to be available and visible every day as a point of reference for patients and staff on the wards.

“All the steps we’re taking are based around ensuring our standards of care and safety are maintained at the highest level by investing in the right areas.

“Our strategic plan for the next three years is testament to the excellent ongoing work we’re doing at the trust to keep standards high and deliver high-quality services for patients in Sheffield, across the United Kingdom and beyond.”

Building work is set to start at the site off Western Bank in autumn.

The overhaul will see a new main entrance built, along with a ward block offering 72 en-suite rooms, the creation of a ground floor outpatients department and a covered car park.

Landscaping works are also included, such as a therapeutic garden and a large ‘play tower’.