THE equivalent of 56 full-time registered nursing posts need to be created in Gwent hospitals to meet all-Wales staffing guidelines.
An assessment of nurse staffing levels at the Royal Gwent and Nevill Hall Hospitals, and at Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr in Ystrad Mynach, revealed the shortfall.
Funding the filling of that staffing gap would cost almost £1.8 million.
The Welsh Government has not made money available to support its staffing principles. But there may be savings by reducing the use of agency staff.
The issue of safe nursing staffing levels has been heightened in recent months, following the publication of the Francis Report into failures at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust.
The Welsh Government’s staffing principles, in place prior to the report’s publication, propose that there be 1.1 whole time equivalent (wte) nurse per hospital bed, and that registered nurse make up 60 per cent of ward staff. There should be seven patients per registered nurse during the day and 11 per nuse at night, and one whole time equivalent in management time per ward.
Aneurin Bevan Health Board believes that increasing nursing staff would allow it to better manage the costs of agency and also bank nursing, with a reduction in agency staff improving continuity of care.
Boosting ward management meanwhile, would allow for more timely and effective management of the discharge of patients requiring complex post-hospital care arrangements.
There is a fear however, that if all health boards implement the staffing principles, there may be a recruitment gap - not enough suitably qualified nurses for the posts on offer.