The accident and emergency department at Eastbourne DGH is bucking a national trend in being overstaffed.
A nationwide survey this week found East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust was one of just 16 trusts in the country which had a higher number of staff on A&E than it had originally budgeted for.
In fact, across the trust’s two main hospital sites (Eastbourne’s DGH and the Conquest) it currently fills the hours of around five additional members of staff than budgeted for.
Elsewhere in the country almost 100 trusts are suffering from a staffing shortfall ranging from between one per cent up to 43 per cent in the worst cases.
Much of this is put down to a shortage of experienced staff, meaning trusts are unable to fill vacant positions, with A&E proving particularly problematic. And although the overall picture in East Sussex is encouraging, the trust is experiencing similar problems, albeit on a smaller scale.
Both the DGH and Conquest A&E departments are budgeted for five consultations, meaning in an ideal world both hospitals would have five experts employed at any one time. However, a shortage of qualified applicants means both sites are running at three and half consultants.
This, the trust says, while not ideal is temporarily partly for by the extra additional medical staff at each base. The Conquest currently boasts 19 other medical staff and 61 nurses, compared to the 15 and 56 budgeted for. The DGH however is experiencing a shortfall of around two people, with 18.8 other medical staff (against 17 budgeted) but less nurses at 60 compared to 62.
That adds up to a budget of roughly 84 against a total level of 82.
A spokesman for East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust said, “Our staffing levels in A&E across the trust are virtually up to their budgeted establishment. We have, for some time, been trying to recruit more A&E consultants but have found this difficult due to a national shortage of emergency medicine doctors. However, we have recently appointed an additional locum consultant. We are maintaining our A&E performance with over 95 per cent of patients treated and either discharged or admitted within four hours.”