The Epsom and St Helier Trust have announced "record numbers" of patients during 2015, an increase on 2014's figures of "over 11,000". See the press release here.
KOSHH commends the hard work of the excellent staff at Epsom and St Helier in coping with this increase.
It is important to remember that early 2015 saw a massive increase in A&E attendances over the winter period (link here), for which the tariff paid to Trusts actually decreases per patient, once a certain number of patients have been seen. Essentially, this means that the hospital is being financially punished for treating "too many" people. This is a good demonstration of why the market based "budgetary control" system is nonsense.
Fundamentally, this statement illustrates beautifully why an "800 bed centre", as was leaked during the "Traingate" episode (see here, here, here and here) to be the chief executive's preferred replacement option for Epsom, St Helier and Queen Mary's hospitals is absolutely not a viable solution for people served by these hospitals currently.
The local CCGs and the Trust's own projections foresee an increase in demand, by 2020 which will require an extra 300 beds in addition to the existing 1,200 or so in order to maintain current capacity. To reduce bed numbers to 800 would clearly put lives at risk - The other trusts in the SW London sector certainly do not appear to have sufficient capacity to cover the shortfall.
We are very pleased to hear that the trust has managed to recruit 303 nurses, but we note that this does not fill the 399 (22% of the total complement of the total nursing posts) vacancies within the trust which were recorded in July 2015. (see here). The trust has had to go abroad for a large part of this intake, and KOSHH understand that in many cases, more training than had been anticipated was required before the new staff could be fully utilised.
Going forward, it is important that we consider the government's plans to remove the nurses bursary (story here), meaning that training to be a nurse in this country will be an expensive affair, and therefore even less attractive - making recruiting local nurses even harder.