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Two trusts issue emergency appeal to off-duty nurses

Second plea in recent months, as the Northern Ireland trusts struggle with staff shortages
Picture of Belfast City Hospital

Second plea in recent months to take extra shifts, as the Northern Ireland trusts struggle with staff shortages

Two trusts have issued urgent appeals for help from off-duty nurses for the second time in less than two months.

Belfast Health and Social Care Trust in Northern Ireland put out an emergency appeal on social media at the weekend, calling on any available registered or unregistered nursing staff to take extra shifts. Northern Ireland’s Southern Health and Social Care Trust also called for help from off-duty nurses at the weekend, having made a similar appeal in August.

High demand for urgent and emergency care

The Belfast trust made a similar appeal in July, in response to a

Second plea in recent months to take extra shifts, as the Northern Ireland trusts struggle with staff shortages

Belfast City Hospital Picture: Alamy

Two trusts have issued urgent appeals for help from off-duty nurses for the second time in less than two months.

Belfast Health and Social Care Trust in Northern Ireland put out an emergency appeal on social media at the weekend, calling on any available registered or unregistered nursing staff to take extra shifts. Northern Ireland’s Southern Health and Social Care Trust also called for help from off-duty nurses at the weekend, having made a similar appeal in August.

High demand for urgent and emergency care

The Belfast trust made a similar appeal in July, in response to a surge in COVID-19 patients and high numbers of staff self-isolating. At the weekend, a trust spokesperson said its teams were under extreme pressure due to increasing patient numbers alongside emergency admissions, adding: ‘Every effort is being made to ensure a continuous high level of care can be delivered.’

Southern trust said cases of COVID-19 had shot up locally and there was a very high demand for urgent and emergency care. ‘Additionally there are a high number of COVID-19 inpatients in our hospitals,’ said a trust spokesperson.

‘Unfortunately as cases increase in our local community, the number of available staff can potentially decrease, which contributes to staffing pressures.’

Figures from Northern Ireland’s Department of Health show that as of 10 September both trusts had more patients than available beds.

Measures to address nurse shortages

The department said it had introduced a range of measures to address nursing shortages and continued to work closely with trusts ‘to ensure there is sufficient capacity within the system to meet the current exceptional demands’.

Initiatives include the Health and Social Care Workforce Appeal, which focuses on filling specific roles and positions across hospitals and community care, and has seen more than 3,800 appointments made since April 2020.

A department spokesperson said: ‘In addition, we have maintained the highest ever number of preregistration nurse training places for this year – 1,325.’


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