DESPERATE nurses have issued a warning that staffing levels at Inverclyde Royal are now 'dangerously low and appalling' - leaving patients in pain and at risk.

The frontline medics have turned to the Telegraph in what they say is a 'last resort' bid to raise the alarm because repeated calls for action to hospital bosses have allegedly been ignored.

Dedicated staff who have lifted the lid on the crisis say that patients at the end of their lives are being left without pain relief - while nurses are 'stressed out', 'struggling' and 'in tears'.

The whistle-blowers have told how shortages on the busy wards means that just one nurse is left to cover up to 15 patients overnight.

It is claimed that if they refuse instructions to move from their own ward to help cover another they are threatened with disciplinary action.

Meanwhile, patients are said to be at greater risk of falling and others are not getting the care needed to get rid of bed sores.

One nurse told the Telegraph: "Staffing levels are at dangerous and appalling levels.

"We as nurses feel we are failing patients. This has been going on for such a long period of time and there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

"Staffing is at an all time critical low and it is having a horrible impact on patient care

"At every shift across the medical wards at least one staff member is being moved to support another area, leaving staffing on wards dangerously short.

"This is having a massive and crucial impact on patient safety.

"In some cases wards are left with two nurses and two healthcare staff to 30 patients. It is unsustainable.

"Controlled medication is given late, palliative patients' syringe drivers are late being changed, meaning patients are going for long periods of time without any palliative medication.

"The two hourly turns are always late because there are not enough staff. This means that patients who already have pressure damage are not getting the care they need to improve and are actually deteriorating further."

Another nurse said: "The staffing is not only having a terrible impact on the patients and their safety, the nurses are totally exhausted and are being left to sink by management.

"Across the wards they are so stressed out they are going off sick, breaking down in tears on shifts and are burnt out. They can't take breaks because they are left with 15 patients.

"These unsafe working conditions are having a direct detrimental effect on nurses and healthcare support and their mental health."

Another nurse said: "It is being constantly brushed off by those in higher power and nurses are expected to just put up with it, not only is it completely unsafe but nurses are putting their registration at risk day and night due to not being allowed to take on staff due to budget constraints.

"We need change and no one will listen."

An NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde spokesperson said: "At all times, the safety and care of our patients alongside the wellbeing of our staff is our absolute priority.

"To help deal with current pressures, our sites have safety huddles throughout the day, where issues relating to patient care and safety are prioritised. Our frequent safety huddles support prompt escalation of any risks and facilitate the appropriate movement of our nursing workforce to support high priority areas.

"We fully understand the significant pressures faced by our teams during winter and we are sorry if any have been negatively impacted by the challenges.

"We would encourage any member of staff who has concerns regarding breaks, staffing or their mental wellbeing to come to us so that we can continue to support them.

"We also welcome all feedback from our staff and will continue to work in partnership with our trade unions and professional organisations to address any points of concern."

The health board added: "In Greater Glasgow and Clyde there has been a nine per cent increase in nursing and midwifery staff between 2019 and 2023. We have also made significant reductions in vacancies at Inverclyde Royal Hospital over the last six months.

"This includes the recruitment of 21 newly qualified nurses and a further 15 internationally educated nurses are currently being supported to register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)."