It could take up to three years to turn things around at Blackpool Victoria Hospital after health chiefs were ordered to drive up standards following a recent inspection, directors were told.
The hospital was given a ‘requires improvement’ rating by health watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC) last month – the same score as two years ago.
A meeting of the Blackpool Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust board of directors heard improvement plans were underway to address the concerns raised by the inspection.
Chairman of the board Pearse Butler said: “This is a long term plan of improvement, not something we can do in two or three months.
“The CQC told us themselves this will take two or three years to turn around.”
Inspectors set out 32 ‘must do’ recommendations, and 86 ‘should do’ recommendations in their report.
Peter Murphy, director of nursing and quality, said initially the aim would be to focus on the main priorities.
He said: “If we do all 86 ‘should do’ requirements we will overwhelm ourselves so we will take a number of priorities from the 86, and with agreement with the CQC we can put the others on to backburner for now.”
One of the priorities will be to address staffing shortages among doctors and nurses.
A report to the board said the CQC had warned the Trust needed to address “the shortfall in nursing staff numbers to ensure patients’ needs are met”.
The CQC said ‘the Trust must ensure they deploy sufficient numbers of suitably qualified, competent, skilled and experienced staff to make sure they can meet people’s care and treatment needs.’
Mr Murphy said: “The CQC has told us we must improve the volume of registered nurses in the organisation and we have taken initial measures to do this.”
Measures include a recruitment trip to the Philippines which has led to 103 job offers being made to nurses and midwives.
But the meeting was warned no additional money had been allocated to the improvement programme and the Trust was facing a £7m deficit half-way through the current financial year.
Other figures indicated the hospital’s budget is currently underfunded by 5.3 per cent, which is the equivalent of between £25m and £27m.
Hospital chief executive Kevin McGee said the measures needed to reach imrovement would “push us into further financial deterioration”.
He added: “But this is the right thing to do in terms of having an appropriate nurse staffing level.”
The latest figures show there are 373 staff vacancies including 230 nurses at the Trust which employs around 6,725 people.