An extra ward has been opened at Warwick Hospital as part of its plans to deal with extra demand this winter.
But a shortage of nurses continues to be a problem with national staffing guidelines breached 130 times in the past month.
Speaking at this week’s board meeting of the South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust, director of nursing Fiona Burton explained the plan for the coming months and outlined some of the fears regarding recruitment.
She said: “Winter is already here and the hospital is particularly busy and that is causing some anxieties with the staff around how we are going to staff winter capacity going forward.
“The plan is to have two extra capacity wards. Fairfax ward with 15 beds is already open and Greville ward is planned to open if we require it from the beginning of January.
“The plan for staffing is slightly different this year in that we did a learning event from last year and one of the commentaries from nursing staff was that they still felt that it was wrong that we were moving substantive staff from wards.
“Our plan this year is to recruit or second internally a team of band six sisters into each of those wards and they can support agency or temporary staff.
“We are behind in terms of timing. We have one sister in post in Fairfax but we haven’t been able to second two more - we are still trying to do that.”
In her report to the board meeting, Mrs Burton added that there was a rolling programme of recruitment in place - both locally and internationally from India - and that a number of new recruits were in the process of starting at the hospital.
But she flagged up where the aim to provide one qualified nurse for every eight patients - a national guideline - was breached 130 times in August.
She explained: “There are a number of reasons for the staffing gaps that are ongoing. These remain unchanged from previous reports and include a continued vacancy factor, sickness and maternity rates in some wards.
“August has historically always been challenging due to substantive staff annual leave and reduced availability of temporary workers during school holidays. Whilst currently the need to redeploy staff or employ additional agency trained staff to ensure essential care delivery is maintained, the Trust has a number of newly qualified nurses commencing posts in September and additional international nurses arriving throughout the autumn. Therefore it is hoped that there will be a steady improvement in the overall position.”