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Princess Alexandra Hospital

Volume 590: debated on Tuesday 13 January 2015

5. What steps have been taken to help Princess Alexandra hospital in Harlow to deal with extra pressure over the winter. (906957)

The West Essex system, which includes Princess Alexandra hospital, has received an additional £4 million in winter resilience funding. Of that, £842,000 has been spent on additional community beds, £211,000 on putting GPs into A and E departments, and £205,000 on reducing delays in the discharge of medically fit patients.

Harlow’s A and E has seen more attendances per bed than some of the biggest hospitals in the country. Although the staff at Princess Alexandra hospital are outstanding, they are still more than 40 nurses short. The chief executive says that recruitment is difficult because pay is better in the neighbouring London hospitals, although they are not far away. I welcome the 6,000 extra nurses, but will the Secretary of State consider what more can be done to help recruitment in Harlow and ease pressure on my local hospital?

I expect the additional £4 million for winter resilience to be directed towards the recruitment of additional front-line staff when that is appropriate, but there is flexibility in the current “Agenda for Change” pay scales to allow for the provision of recruitment and retention premiums if there are problems with recruitment.