Guidelines from the Academy of Royal Colleges state that A&E departments should be supported by critical care facilities (sometimes called intensive care). The Trust has faced difficulties in recruiting anaesthetic staff to provide on call cover for critical care, and this has been a particular issue at Bishop Auckland.
The Royal College of Anaesthetists removed its accreditation for training junior doctors several years ago because the medical only workload at the hospital did not provide an appropriate range of experience for trainees. This in turn means that many doctors will not consider applying for jobs at the hospital.
As an interim solution, and to ensure patient safety, the most seriously ill critical care patients are transferred to Darlington Memorial and University Hospital of North Durham.
The Medical Royal Colleges’ 2007 report Acute Health Care Services recognises that by 2009 there will not be enough experienced doctors to provide 24 hour dedicated intensive care unit cover in some hospitals. Over and above the national shortage of key staff, the Trust faces the additional difficulty of trying to recruit to a unit that does not provide a full range of services.
“Critical care - the current position is unsustainable with one consultant and Trust grade doctors running the service at Bishop Auckland. We support the proposal … to remove critical care services from Bishop Auckland, but would add the caveat that workload and staffing should be carefully examined, and expanded if necessary, if the two site acute model is implemented.”
Professor Sir George Alberti, NCAT report - August 2008