‘More health staff needed’: RQIA report

​A ‘System Inspection’ across the Southern Health and Social Care Trust has made 11 recommendations for improvement, while concluding that all the services it explored needed more staff.
Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry.Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry.
Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry.

Undertaken in autumn 2023 as a response to “ongoing and persistent system pressures, particularly those affecting acute hospital services”, the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) inspection looked particularly at patients who were delayed in their dischange from the acute hospital, and the effectiveness of collaboration between acute services, community and social care services in meeting needs.

While recognising “the immense efforts being made by staff throughout the health and social care system to maintain services and provide safe and caring treatment”, it makes recommendations for improved communication and collaboration within acute services, between the acute and community sectors, and with patients and families.

It also identified that services that were well placed to meet the needs of patients beyond their hospital stay were in place, but did not have the capacity required to meet patients’ needs.

A spokesperson said: “The Inspection adds to the evidence of the harm that is caused when there are delays in patients accessing acute care. It shows the impact of delayed discharge on those patients ready to leave acute care, to be supported at home, in a care home setting or other

community care.

"The two aspects are very much linked – if patients cannot leave hospital, new patients who need care urgently cannot get access to the acute care they need.

RQIA Chief Executive Briege Donaghy added: ““The workforce challenge dominated all our findings. All the services we explored needed more staff. We know that the working population available in Northern Ireland is not growing in keeping with the growing needs for community care. There is a need therefore, to create conditions that attract staff to work in, and stay in, health and social care services.

“Without this, the pressures will continue across the system. These pressures will be most visible in our acute hospitals and ambulance services, and experienced by patients and by our emergency care staff ”.

“We wish to thank all the staff working in health and social care in the Southern Trust area, and across the region, and all patients and families who contributed to this inspection”.

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