HEALTH bosses are planning to spend £755,000 on upgrading doctors' living quarters at the Royal Gwent Hospital, described in a report as "poor."
Health boards are obliged to provide accommodation for doctors in their first year of foundation training, known as F1s, and the standard of the flats currently available is thought to be a key reason why only six of the hospital's 25 current F1 doctors are living on site.
It is understood that last year, 13 incoming F1s made an initial commitment to living in the accommodation at the Royal Gwent, but that this fell to six after viewings.
Now Aneurin Bevan Health Board is looking at refurbishing accommodation Block Six on the hill behind the main hospital buildings.
The problem for health boards, in Gwent and elsewhere, is that they do not know until very late on how many F1s will take up the offer of accommodation. New intakes of F1s begin in hospital every August.
The plan for which Aneurin Bevan Health Board is seeking approval from the Welsh Government, would provide 25 flats.
The aim, subject to approval, is to start refurbishment later this month, with current Block Six occupants moving into other empty accommodation on the Royal Gwent site while the work is carried out.
It is proposed that funding be provided through the board's discretionary capital programme - an annual amount of around £6 million earmarked for repair and equipment replacement - spread across two financial years.
The project also provides the opportunity for the health board to consider what to do with four other unused accommodation blocks at the Royal Gwent.
Only three blocks there are currently in use, yet income targets for accommodation remain based on levels set several years ago when there were seven accommodation blocks, and before the obligation on health boards to provide free accommodation for F1 doctors came into force.
The shortfall this year will be an estimated £70,000. Demolition is an option for the four empty blocks.