Whittington use of agency staff criticised as pensioner is left lying in faeces

PUBLISHED: 13:00 19 February 2015

The Whittington is trying to cut down on its use of agency staff. Picture: Nigel Sutton

The Whittington is trying to cut down on its use of agency staff. Picture: Nigel Sutton

© Nigel Sutton

The son of a pensioner treated at the Whittington Hospital has warned health bosses over its reliance on agency staff after having found his own mother lying in a ward covered in faeces.

Andreas Markou, whose mum suffers from osteoporosis, lamented the shortage of permanent nurses at the hospital in Archway and said agency staff “weren’t familiar with the specific needs of each patient”.

He said his mother’s experience after being admitted in September to treat an infection had left her “petrified” of going back.

Relaying the story to the hospital’s bosses during the board meeting earlier this month, he said: “I was coming in, finding mum in faeces, with the faeces having travelled back to where her bacterial infection was.

“On the doctor side of things, the care was really good. But on the nursing side of things – that’s where the problem happens.

“At night you seem to have two to three permanent nurses on the ward and then care assistants from agency nursing.

“They [agency staff] didn’t seem to have the time to listen and weren’t always familiar with the specific needs of each patient.

“My mum is petrified of coming back.”

It comes as Whittington Health, the trust in charge of the hospital, continued its battle to drive down agency staffing costs.

Figures obtained by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) found the cash-strapped trust had spent £1.66million on agency staff between July and September 2014 alone – slightly down from 2013.

Published earlier this month, the RCN report said that trusts across the NHS were having problems with high agency staff numbers after being “hamstrung by short-term workforce cuts, cuts to nurse training places and poor morale which is making retention and recruitment difficult”.

It added: “Unless rapid action is taken, the NHS is expected to spend at least £980million on agency nursing staff by the end of this financial year. Over-reliance on agency staff impacts on continuity of care, which is bad for patients.”

Not long after Mr Markou relayed the story of his mother to hospital chiefs, board members were warned by finance officers that the hospital’s spending on staffing at the Whittington had become a “financial risk” for the trust.

Steve Hitchins, chairman of Whittington Health, said Mr Markou’s and his mother’s experience at the hospital “made us even more aware of some of the challenges we face”. He added: “The agency nurses contribute to some of the problems we have with money. We are trying to reduce the number. It’s slow progress.”

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

13 minutes ago

Campaigners against the 100 Avenue Road development suffered a major blow last night as Camden voted through a controversial plan that will funnel lorries through residential streets in Swiss Cottage.

Yesterday, 17:35

The families left homeless by the fire that destroyed the upper floors of Willow House in East Finchley last week said Barnet Council treated them “like ants to be squashed” in the immediate aftermath of the fire.

Yesterday, 12:44

The Temple Fortune community was celebrating on Tuesday after Barnet’s Finchley and Golders Green planning committee unanimously rejected plans to build housing on the old Templars Tennis Club.

Yesterday, 12:10

Tens of thousands of pounds, weapons and drugs were seized after searching a garage in the Peckwater Estate on Tuesday morning.

Yesterday, 11:55

Passengers on the Barking to Gospel Oak line have become used to delays and disruption in recent times.

Wed, 17:58

A man has been convicted over the “senseless” stabbing of a Dutch man in Camden Lock in 2016.

Wed, 17:04

Camden Council will correct a sign that says a park will be closed every day at dusk, despite it having no way to shut it.

Wed, 13:01

A Cumbrian couple have been left scared for their property after receiving a bailiff’s letter demanding council tax for a Maida Vale property they have no connection to.


Looking to get your child interested in a sport? Allianz Park, home to rugby union team Saracens, welcomes people of all ages to join their family of supporters and discover how their core values Honesty, Discipline, Humility and Work Rate underpin everything they do off and on the pitch.

As part of a major refurb, the London Marriott Hotel Maida Vale has renamed its three new-look function rooms to reflect the geography and rich history of the area. The largest, perfect for weddings and large meetings, is named after a Hampstead subterranean river, The Westbourne.

Londoners seeking high quality houses for sale within easy commuting distance of the capital are being advised to look north to St Albans’ prestigious Gabriel Square development.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now