THE trust which runs Basingstoke hospital is looking to recruit nurses from as far afield as the Philippines after failing to hit staffing targets.

In June, Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (HHFT) fell well short of its targets for staffing levels in medicine – a division which includes the emergency department, elderly care and the medical assessment unit.

There were 36 fewer nurses on the medical wards across Basingstoke, Winchester and Andover hospitals than the ‘acuity requirement’ – the ideal number of nurses calculated using a complicated formula.

Donna Green, chief nurse, explained that the formula looks at factors such as patient need, whether they are self caring and feeding, and whether they take medication.

The situation will change day by day and even from hour to hour, depending on patients’ fluctuating conditions.

In June, the acuity requirement was around 472 nurses in medicine, compared to the 437 who actually worked.

Elsewhere in the hospital, in family and clinical support services and in the surgical division, the trust exceeded the acuity requirement, leaving them short by an average of just 1.4 nurses across the whole trust for June.

However, the trust is failing to hit the one-to-eight ratio of nurses to patients recommended by national group Safer Staffing Alliance across all departments.

Mrs Green said that it was a constant battle to recruit nurses into the medicine division, adding it was a problem for hospitals across the country.

To up the numbers, HHFT has launched an international recruitment drive to try and attract nurses from across Europe and beyond, targeting Ireland, Portugal, Spain and the Philippines.

Mrs Green said: “We want to go to countries we know we have had some success in the past. All nurses who come to work in this country must apply to the Nursing and Midwifery Council, which includes an English language test.”

The trust will also be training healthcare assistants up to be nurses and recruiting newly-qualified nurses.

Mrs Green said: “This is not a simple situation, and we do not want people to be scared that their loved ones will not be cared for properly.

“I am less interested in the numbers and more interested in whether there have been any reports of harm as a result of staffing levels, and there have been none.

“If you ask nurses, of course they will say that they need more staff, but I am confident that patients are not coming to any harm.”

Mrs Green explained these incidents could include things such as a patient falling or the wrong medication being given.

She added the one-to-eight ratio recommended by the Safer Staffing Alliance was something to take into account, rather than something the trust aims for.