FINANCE: The board of Plymouth Hospitals Trust has agreed to fund an additional 56 beds at a cost of £3.4m, despite predicting a deficit of £13m by the end of 2013-14.

Minutes of June’s board meeting said the trust’s bed programme had identified the difference between current and optimal capacity as 56 beds. It proposed the establishment of 26 Healthcare of the Elderly beds on Monkswell ward, 10 in-ward escalation beds and 20 short stay medical beds - driven by the known increase in patients who stay 0-2 days.

The extra capacity will require an additional 74 whole time equivalent staff.

Director of nursing Greg Dix said that as nursing recruitment was just keeping pace with internal turnover it was likely that it would be necessary recruit internationally.

The finance report shows a deficit of £2.45m at the end of May, falling to £13m by the end of March 2014.