DOZENS of nursing posts remain unfilled ahead of the busiest time of the year for hospitals serving people from Hartlepool and East Durham.
There are 27 vacancies for nurses at band 5 level working at the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, according to figures from the Royal College of Nursing.
The trust operates the University Hospital of Hartlepool, and its sister hospital in Stockton.
There are vacancies at trusts right across the region, despite active campaigns to fill front-line positions, although the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust fares well in the local league table.
The County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust has 194 vacancies, while 163 positions remained unfilled at the South Tees Trust.
A spokeswoman for North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust said: “Because of the high turnover of staff, we have a continuing recruitment drive to unsure staffing levels remain safe.
“The number of vacancies shown in the most recent figures is a vast improvement on where we were at the same stage last year.”
The union’s regional section submitted a freedom of information request to hospital trusts across the North East to see how many posts are vacant.
Glenn Turp, regional director for the RCN northern branch, said: “These new figures show that the Government is failing to ensure sufficient nurses are trained and retained in the North-East and Cumbria.
“NHS trust management across the North-East and Cumbria are trying their very best to fill posts and retain staff running ongoing recruitment campaigns, but without sufficient resources coming in from central Government, it is frankly making the task impossible.
“We know from the tragedy at Mid Staffordshire that without sufficient nurses and health care assistants, the quality of care can be compromised.
“It is absolutely vital, therefore, that the Government starts funding sufficient extra places at our local universities as a matter of urgency, so that we have a big enough pool of talent to meet future demands on the service.
“We have literally hundreds of nursing vacancies across the North-East and Cumbria, and we need a two-pronged approach to tackling the problem: firstly, we need to make sure that our universities have sufficient places available to match the vacancies to the jobs.
“Secondly, we need to ensure that this incredibly rewarding profession remains attractive to the next generation of nurses and health care assistants, by delivering fair terms and conditions for all front-line staff.”