Nurses across Sheffield are being taken off regular duties as an unseasonable spike in norovirus puts ‘considerable pressure’ on city hospitals.
The Star has seen an internal email from Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, documenting contingency plans to combat increased demand at A&E.
The email states the trust is under ‘considerable pressure’ because of emergency admissions and ‘difficulties recruiting sufficient nurses across the organisation’.
In order to cope, the trust has rearranged wards at the Hallamshire Hospital to create surplus nurses which can help staff extra beds at Northern General Hospital.
A spokesman for the trust said city hospitals were experiencing four times as many cases of the sickness and vomiting norovirus bug as they were at this time last year.
The spokesman said: “At the moment we are seeing an increased demand for emergency care which means we need to admit more people to the Northern General Hospital.
“At the same time we have a higher than normal number of norovirus cases and more patients who are staying in hospital longer than expected.
“We have opened an additional 37 beds to ensure we can accommodate the demand.
“We have rearranged some of our wards at the Hallamshire Hospital to allow some nursing staff to temporarily help staff the extra beds at the Northern General until demand returns to normal levels.
“By releasing nurses to help at the Northern General we are aiming to ensure we can provide good care at this very busy time across all our hospital sites.”
The Royal College of Nursing union says the leaked email highlights the ongoing staffing pressures in the NHS.
Glenn Turp, regional director for RCN Yorkshire, said: “The RCN remains concerned by the continuing staffing crisis across the NHS – we simply don’t have enough nurses.
“At the same time, A&E departments and hospitals are running at full capacity trying to keep up with ever increasing demand.
“Nurses are working harder than ever to deliver and maintain good patient care, on their feet all day without taking breaks or lunch and staying on late to complete handovers.
“They simply feel over stretched and exhausted from hospitals that are full to bursting.”
People are urged to stay away from hospital if they have been unwell with norovirus in the last 72 hours.