§ Mr. Shersby
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) whether the nursing establishment of the intensive care unit at Hillingdon Hospital was full on the night of Thursday 2nd October; whether the unit is fully manned 24 hours a day; and if she is satisfied as to the availability of fully trained nursing staff in the Hillingdon area;
(2) what is the total number of beds in the intensive care unit at Hillingdon Hospital; how many of them are open for use; and whether adequate financial resources are available to ensure that the unit is fully manned at all times.
§ Mrs. Castle
My Department has made inquiries of the health authority about the allegations in a national newspaper on 9th October that a patient had died as a result of nursing shortages at Hillingdon Hospital. The medical staff of the hospital have issued a public statement denying that any patient's life had been or was being jeopardised. I am satisfied that there is no truth whatsoever in these allegations.
The hospital, like others, is having to exercise financial restraint because of the economic difficulties facing the country. However, adequate financial resources have been made available for a full complement of trained nurses to be provided on a 24 hour basis for the three beds in the hospital's intensive care unit in regular use. The unit was built for five patients, and occasionally in emergencies more than three patients are accommodated. In these circumstances extra nursing staff are brought into the unit as necessary.
On 2nd October there was a normal complement of three trained staff on the evening shift and four on the night shift.
I am assured that the number of trained nursing staff available in the Hillingdon area is satisfactory.