BARNSLEY Hospital is to employ more nurses to make wards for elderly patients safer.

Around 13 new posts consisting of full and part-time positions will be created and it's hoped the staff will be in place on wards 19 and 20 by Christmas.

Currently, there's one matron for the two wards and each ward is managed by a senior nurse.

For ‘ideal, good quality care’, the nursing union, the Royal College of Nursing, recommends there's one registered nurse for every five patients.

The impact of the increased staff on patient safety will focus on falls and pressure ulcers and will be monitored monthly.

From April to June there were 28 falls suffered by patients on ward 19, while on ward 20 there were 53. There were five pressure ulcers on ward 19 and four on ward 20 - all suffered after the patient arrived in hospital.

Heather McNair, chief nurse at Barnsley Hospital, said staffing levels were continually reviewed.

"The Royal College of Nursing provides recommended levels of staffing and we use these as a benchmark to measure our own levels," she added.

"In order to achieve the ideal, quality care as recommended by the RCN we have committed to recruiting more nurses on our elderly care wards."

David Munday, a health officer for the Unite union, said: "Improving care means having enough staff on wards to respond to the needs of patients.

"If patients can’t get a response from a nurse quickly enough, they can sometimes try and get out of bed themselves and can end up falling if they aren't very steady on their feet. More staff will improve that."

Michelle Mitchell from Age UK said the move was good news.

"Low staffing levels on hospital wards dangerously compromise elderly patients care and dignity. Nurses need time to be able to look after, listen and respond to their older patients," she added.