Hospitals need to act now to stop a nursing crisis from putting patients in Gloucestershire at risk, it has been claimed.
Portuguese nurses have been parachuted in along with newly qualified students from the University of the West of England - but there is still a shortfall of qualified staff willing to work in Gloucestershire.
As a result, the Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has been forced to look abroad again. An overseas recruitment programme is likely to be launched next month.
The move follows comments from NHS England’s new chief executive Simon Stevens, who has called for trusts to ‘think like a patient, and act like a taxpayer’.
Chief executive Dr Frank Harsent said trusts need to look abroad to learn from the way health care is delivered.
“Health care is more global now,” he said.
“We are going back out to overseas recruitment next month as there is not enough qualified nurses available to work in Gloucestershire. We don’t want to rely on bank staff and agencies to fill the gaps. We want to be attracting nurses who are of a high quality, that is a challenge.”
Care Quality Commission guidelines state wards must now publicly display staffing levels to show the level of care on duty.
Wards at both major county hospitals will display how many registered nurses and nursing assistants are on duty, how many patients are on the ward, how many specialists are working and how many students are on shift - as well as the name of the nurse in charge.
Maggie Arnold, director of nursing at the trust, said: “We are tying everything that we can to get more nurses in, that includes going out to universities and overseas. I cannot say we will fill every post, but we are trying our hardest.”
The trust failed to hit its target of treating patients within four hours at A&E, falling below the 95 per cent benchmark to 91.83 per cent in March.
Hospital admissions were down almost three per cent then when compared with the previous year.
GP referrals also increased by six per cent in March.
Medical director Dr Sean Elyan said: “Although the situation is clearly bad in Gloucestershire, it is a lot worse in hospitals elsewhere in the country.
“In some hospitals, 50 per cent of positions in acute medicine are going unfilled. “There is no doubt, we need to be in a much stronger position in two years time.”