By Melissa Clark
PATIENTS have been falling out of bed because of staff shortages at a new hospital.
The Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Labert, Falkirk, has been forced to draft in newly qualified nurses early because of rising sick days and increasing numbers of patients needing care.
One staff nurse, who did not wish to be named, feared for the safety of frail patients as she explained that only two nurses were left in charge of a ward of over 30 patients.
She said: “It is not safe. We cannot get round our patients at night to give them treatments doctors have prescribed. Patients are falling out of bed. Relatives complain we are not delivering the care they expect, but we genuinely can’t because we do not have the time.
The health board said it is trying to bring in 50 newly registered nurses earlier than planned to help struggling staff.
The£300 million hospital was officially opened last July by the Queen and is said to be one of the most modern and well-equipped hospitals in Europe.
NHS Forth Valley last week announced that up to four frontline staff in the emergency department had fallen ill with whooping cough.
150 members of staff were offered vaccines to try and prevent the potentially fatal illness from spreading with some taking time off while a diagnosis was ruled out.
However, the health board say this illness is not the only problem.
In a statement the board said: “Over the past few months we have been higher levels of sickness absence among our nursing staff due to a number of reasons.
“We have also seen an increased number of patients requiring treatment at Forth Valley Royal Hospital.”
The vast majority of nursing shifts had been covered the NHS’s own pool of reserved staff.
It said: “Fifty interns were due to begin working in Forth Valley next January under a national NHS scheme, but we are hoping to bring the start time forward to later this year.
“This would significantly increase nursing capacity and resources across the organisation.”
Philip Coghill, professional officer for the Royal College of Nursing in Forth Valley, said: “We are aware Forth Vally Royal Hospital has been experiencing some pressures in terms of
“The dependency of patients coming though has been quite high in recent times.
“We are also aware through talking to management and hearing from our members that there has been a recent increase in the level of short-term staff sickness.
“We have had a conversation with managers to ascertain what might be causing that.
“Staff absence and high demand on nursing care is bound to create pressure on frontline nurses and we would be concerned about that.”
He added: “It is important the flow of patients through the hospital and discharge from hospital is managed well. Forth Valley has agreed there are patient flow issues they continue to