WORKFORCE: A West Midlands mental health trust has boosted staff numbers in response to the Francis report, recent board papers show.

The decision by Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust to swell its staff roll follows the controversial line taken by NHS England and Monitor that the extra costs of implementing Francis recommendations “do not apply to non-acute services”.

Both organisations have set different efficiency targets for the acute and non-acute sectors.

The former has received a 1.5 per cent tariff reduction, while non-acute providers have been given a 1.8 per cent cut.

According to the trust’s March board papers, Birmingham and Solihull reviewed nurse staffing on its adult acute wards in light of the the Francis and Berwick reports and the Keogh review.

Its internal review pinpointed the need to recruit an additional 14.5 full-time nurses and 5.5 health care assistants at an annual cost of £652,066.

This was in order to deliver a “safe quality care” across its 182 adult inpatient beds.

Birmingham and Solihull’s nursing director, Sue Hartley, told HSJ that previous staffing numbers were safe and that the uplift would allow the trust to deliver better quality care.

“You can keep somebody safe and not give them great quality, and actually we want to do both,” she said.

Ms Hartley, whose background lies in acute hospitals, said that the link between staffing levels and care quality applied equally to acute and non-acute sectors.

“If you look at information from service users when they’re not happy with the quality of their care, it’s often about the time the nurses have to spend with them to help them get better.”

The staffing increase has been funded by the trust agreeing a 1.5 per cent tariff cut with its clinical commissioning groups, rather than the 1.8 per cent recommended by NHS England.

However the trust has also committed to considering and approving staffing increases in other inpatient areas – such as older adult and specialities wards.

It has not yet identified where the funding for these increases will come from.

The trust’s board papers say that staffing reviews for these areas will be completed by July 2014, and the topic of “additional cost pressures due to our response to the Francis report” will be discussed with commissioners by September 2014.