WORKFORCE: 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 has begun immediate recruitment of additional qualified nurses in response to concerns its wards were short staffed.

The hospital is seeking to recruit an additional 33 whole time equivalent nurses, an increase of almost six per cent on its existing establishment.

According to a Care Quality Commission report on the trust published this month there were 45 risk events related to inadequate staffing between August and October.

A report to the trust’s February board meeting 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.”

The paper said that in response to these concerns, and following “comprehensive collective discussions with all ward sisters”, management had agreed to begin “immediate” recruitment of Agenda for Change band 5 nurses. This will allow ward sister’s roles to become supervisory – as opposed to carrying out routine nursing – the report said.

The trust has been experiencing above planned levels of activity, as a result of which it has not made workforce reductions which had been planned as part of a cost improvement scheme. In December the trust overspent on its £7.3m pay budget by more than £200,000. The trust has reduced its forecast savings from pay in 2012-13 from £4.2m to £2.7m

Director of workforce Mark Power said: “Our financial position has improved and we are able to plan for this staffing in 2013-14. The current overspend against original plan is caused by increased activity, the income for which will offset much of the additional expenditure.”