King George and Queen’s Hospitals face 100-bed shortfall at peak times

Ambulances outside Queen's Hospital in Romford

Ambulances outside Queen's Hospital in Romford - Credit: PA

King George and Queen’s Hospitals are struggling with a shortage of hospital beds, a lack of staff and a “revolving door” of bosses, a trust meeting was told. 

In the last financial year, Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT) – which runs the two hospitals – failed to treat three out of ten emergency patients within four hours. 

The trust’s most recent annual report warns of a 100-bed shortfall at peak times. 

At the trust's annual general meeting on September 30, BHRUT chief executive Matthew Trainer admitted a “lack of workforce” prevented them from adding more beds. 

“There’s an issue in terms of our staffing ability, there’s no point opening up multiple new wards if we don’t have staff,” he said. 

Instead of a new wing, the trust hopes to set up new theatres for elective surgery and provide more services “in the community” instead of “increasingly growing the hospital”, he added. 

BHRUT has also seen a “revolving door” of 15 chief executives in two decades, a number the trust’s departing chair Mike Bell called “staggering”. 

Mike Bell said instability in the leadership is the biggest challenge the trust has faced, with Matthew Trainer the trust’s first permanent chief executive “in at least five years”.

BHRUT spends £20m more each year on temporary staff than they would spend if those staff were in-house.

Currently, eight per cent of jobs are vacant across the organisation. 

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The use of temporary staff, who receive higher pay than permanent staff, is “unfair and unaffordable”, said chief financial officer Nick Swift. 

Despite the trust increasing its permanent staff from six to seven thousand, 17pc of the workforce were agency or bank staff. 

Health campaigner Andy Walker asked whether the appointment of Jacqui Smith as chair of Barts and BHRUT “undermines staff confidence”. 

Mr Bell said: “Jacqui is an experienced NHS chair, she has passed the fit and proper person test, therefore she is fully approved to be chair of our trust and Barts and will be fabulous chair.”  

Smith was criticised for appearing on Strictly Come Dancing last December while she chaired University Hospitals Birmingham.

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