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  1. ITV Report

Shortage of nurses in our region 'risks patient safety'

There are almost 1,200 unfilled nursing posts in our hospitals. Credit: Lynne Cameron/PA

The lack of nurses in the South West is putting huge pressure on existing staff and risking safety standards, according to the Royal College of Nursing.

"The nurses that are in post at the moment are working even harder in order to be able to deliver the service - and they're getting exhausted by it, and it's putting huge pressure on the service that can be delivered to patients.

– Jeannette Martin, Royal College of Nursing South West

The College says there are more than 1,200 unfilled nursing posts in hospitals in our region - with hospitals spending millions on agency workers to fill the shortage.

  • To fill the gap in the first six months of last year spending on agencies was three times what it was five years ago.
  • In 2010 that spend was close to 9 million - in 2015 it was almost 34 million.
  • Since October the Government has capped the amount hospitals can pay out on agency staff, leaving Trusts desperately trying to take on more staff.

"If you have shifts where you don't have sufficient staff on, there's a risk to patient safety, and it's imperative that we maintain patient safety and uphold our standards."

– Gill Withington, Matron for Community Inpatients

The Great Western Trust has held a number of recruitment days to tempt people into the profession - but hospital wards are getting busier, and grants for student nurses are to be replaced with loans.

While there are currently more applications than places for trainees in nursing, and while the government is lifting the cap on how many student nurses can be trained, in the the short-term the question is how to help hospitals that need more staff right now.