The Rushden Echo, 2nd July 1965, transcribed By Jim Hollis
‘Acute’ Staff Shortage at Rushden Hospital
Rushden Hospital is playing an increasingly important part in the off-loading of cases from main general hospitals in the Kettering Management group, but if the present acute staff shortage continues it is likely that the hospital will have to reduce the number of beds available for patients and limit its scope to tubercular and bronchial sufferers.
The long standing shortage of untrained and trained staff at the hospital has been aggravated in the past week by illness among the former, leaving only one of them on duty at the weekend.
This has caused the hospital to close its doors to further patients and Dr. O. E. Fisher, Consultant Chest Physician at the hospital, said they had had to turn down four possible admissions from Kettering because of this.
Matron Mrs. B. Ward explained: “The situation has become far more acute since we started taking in chest cases in addition to tuberculosis.
Dr. Fisher said the immediate problem was probably easing a little and the Matron agreed that she now had three of the untrained staff who were off ill working again.
It seems that the root of the trouble at the hospital is getting hold of trained nurses. No amount of advertising in the nursing Press and locally has produced a response and the situation is now being discussed by the hospital management committee.
There are ten full-time nurses at the hospital and the duty rota for part time staff has to be worked out something like this; five staff two nights a week, three working three nights a week and one for one night a week. This means that with careful planning and co-operation and nobody sick it would be possible for three of these untrained staff to be working on each day of the week except one.
Dr. Fisher explained: “We are unable to recruit anyone because the nursing demands are far heavier now than they were in the days when we just admitted tubercular cases.
“If we are not able to get more nurses and the increase in patients continues we shall have to consider reducing the number of in-patients to those with tuberculosis and short-term chest investigation cases.”
He emphasised that the hospital would be extremely reticent to do this and it was not likely to happen in the near future. It was an extreme retrograde step but nevertheless one that might have to be taken.
In 1954 total admissions at the hospital were 176; of these 154 were tuberculosis cases. Total admissions last year had risen to 319 but only 72 of these were tuberculosis cases. The hospital has 71 beds and eleven for skin cases.
The shortage of staff at the hospital was first referred to by Mr. A. C. A. Colton, chairman of Rushden TB After Care Committee, when he appealed for more staff at the annual dinner of the Rushden Factories and Works Darts League last Friday.