BED shortages have led to Rotherham patients being placed as far away as Bristol by a health trust which admits recruitment is stifled as people can earn more at Amazon.
Mental health service RDaSH — Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust — said in-patient capacity within the borough had been at 100 per cent since April.
This has meant 16 patients had be found out-of-area placements in that time.
Matt Pollard, RDaSH’s Rotherham care group director, said: “It can be significant distances, depending on bed availability.
“We have had situations in the past couple of months where we have had patients who have desperately needed admission and the only bed that’s been available has been in Bristol.
“Anybody in hospital, particularly with a mental health condition, benefits from the support of friends and family.
“Anywhere away from home is too far.”
RDaSH chief executive Kathryn Singh said the trust tried to avoid such placements but demand had meant that was not possible.
She added: “As a result, we purchased, on a block basis, some additional beds.
“At least that way it means we have got a relationship with a particular hospital.
“It helps us facilitate a faster return [to Rotherham] and it keeps some continuity of the clinical care for the individual.”
Sickness rates among the 3,700 RDaSH staff hit a high of 16 per cent during the pandemic and are now at about nine per cent.
Mr Pollard told Rotherham’s Health Select Commission last Thursday (7) that the number of complex patient cases had hit record levels in recent months.
He added: “We have certainly had an increase in the number of people not ever known to the service presenting in real crisis, often brought to us by the police because they have been picked up and detained.
“One of the biggest challenges for us is staffing.
“We’ve got vacancies, significant numbers of agency staff that we have to use to support us.
“Open recruitment is proving challenging for both qualified and non-qualified nursing staff and medical staff.
“We have also got significant numbers who are more mature in their years and considering retirement.
“There are colleagues who would have stayed for longer but have gone because the last 12 or 18 months have been so difficult that they have made the choice to leave.”
Mrs Singh added: “We have seen very recently that we’re competing against the list of Amazon and others.
“People can go and work for more money for Amazon than in the NHS and in the care sector.”
It was important to co-ordinate recruitment with other health organisations so as not to simply move vacancies around and “harm” the wider system, she added.