An acute trust in the South West has begun “immediate” recruitment of extra qualified nurses in response to concerns the wards were short staffed.
Dorset County Hospital Foundation Trust is seeking to recruit an additional 33 whole time equivalent nurses, an increase of almost 6% on its existing establishment.
According to a recent Care Quality Commission report on the trust, there were 45 risk events related to inadequate staffing between August and October 2012.
A report to trust’s board in February said: “It has become evident that nursing staff in our main ward areas sometimes find difficulty in meeting all of the demands associated with the roles – whilst increasingly, ward managers are undertaking core nursing tasks, and are included within rostered numbers, in order to assist their teams.
“These issues are often compounded when ward areas experience increases in sickness absence, or maternity leave, or a combination of both.”
In response to these concerns, and following “comprehensive collective discussions with all ward sisters”, management had agreed to begin “immediate” recruitment of band 5 nurses, the board report said.
The trust has been planning to cut spending on pay by £4.2m during the financial year 2012-13, but due to high levels of activity has been unable to reduce headcount as planned.
It is the latest in a line of trusts that are being forced to recruit more nurses due to spiraling demand, as previously reported by Nursing Times.
At Dorset County the extra recruitment is also intended to allow the role of ward sister to become supervisory, in line with recent recommendations from the NHS Commissioning Board’s national nursing strategy and the Francis report from the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust public inquiry.
The trust has revised the ward manager job description to reflect this change and hopes it will lead to “well-motivated, well-supported and flourishing teams, high levels of staff engagement and improved staff well-being” – as well as less reliance on bank and agency staffing.