Staff shortages at an east London hospital trust mean it may only be able to use half of the additional capacity offered by new wards.

Matthew Trainer, chief executive of Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT), presented a report to the board on Tuesday, January 11, outlining how the trust could have up to 60 new hospital beds available in February.

It has opened Erica ward in King George Hospital, while North East London Foundation Trust (NELFT) is opening a stroke rehab ward – Daisy – on its Goodmayes site next week.

They could provide 15 beds each.

NELFT's 15 beds will free up space at Queen’s Hospital in Romford, where the 30-bed Sky A ward is expected to open in February, once the critical care build is complete.

However, Mr Trainer told the board that staffing challenges at the trust mean each of these new wards would open below capacity, with approximately 30 beds initially “in play”, rather than the full 60.