NHS Grampian bosses have revealed they are making good progress with an action plan to ensure the north-east’s flagship accident and emergency ward is safely staffed.
Workers at the Emergency Care Centre in Aberdeen warned the health board last month that if vacant posts were not filled by the beginning of August, they would struggle to provide “safe care 24 hours a day, seven days a week”.
At a crunch board meeting, they even said they might not be able to carry out resuscitation in life-threatening cases because of the chronic shortage of staff.
But in an updated report that will go in front of the NHS Grampian board today, director of workforce Dr Annie Ingram said that although not all the vacant posts had yet been filled, she was pleased with the progress that had been made so far.
“With the assistance of the national lead for emergency medicine, Dr Bill Morrison, a revised consultant rota has been developed which will provide the safest level of consultant cover for the department,” her report says.
“Efforts to ensure the rota remains adequately covered will continue over the months ahead to ensure a safe and stable position is sustained.”
She revealed that two out of three consultant posts had been filled, while another is yet to be advertised.
“The clinical and management team are optimistic that the progress that has been made over the past couple of months will encourage improved interest when we re-advertise the third vacant consultant post,” she said.
“Significant progress” has also been made in recruiting experienced doctors, including a mixture of speciality trainees, medium-long-term locums and overseas recruits.
In addition, Dr Ingram revealed that a series of advisory and clinical team meetings had been introduced, including hospital-wide trauma team support, resuscitation support and support during the night.
However, she did admit that some risks do still exist, particularly the pressures on existing staff who will need to train up new recruits.
“There will be considerable pressure on the current consultant team to support the changeover of staff and they will be key to supporting the new recruits into their roles,” she said.
“At this stage, the board can be reassured that progress is being made.
“The board will be briefed regularly as to the current staffing position over the next few months depending upon the progress being achieved.”