THERE is a dire shortage of nurses in Gwent , a social care leader says, causing him to call for fundamental changes to be made to tackle the problem.

Mario Kreft MBE, the chair of Care Forum Wales has said that the scarcity of medically trained staff is leading to nursing home closures which will push the NHS beyond breaking point.

He believes that one of the major causes of the problem is the flawed way in which social care is commissioned.

"The commissioning process should be about quality and securing value for money and not about paying the lowest possible price,” he said.

"We know there are major issues affecting the care sector in Gwent, particularly in care homes registered for nursing.

"The NHS is refusing to pay for 24/7 nursing presence in nursing homes, yet the Welsh Government regulations insist on this.

"There are a total of over 20,000 beds in the independent social care sector in Wales and of those 11,500 beds, are for people who need nursing care - and these beds are underpinning the ability of the NHS to function.

"There are simply not enough new homes being built to replace the ones that are being lost and this will affect communities across Wales.”

A Welsh Government spokesperson said:“Health Boards and Trusts are responsible for identifying the workforce needs for their populations.

" The Workforce Education and Development Service works with Health Boards to understand the requirements of sectors other than the NHS, such as care home nurses.

"This is taken into account each year when pre-registration education places are commissioned.”

“Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) will be working closely with HC One and local commissioners towards a planned move for people currently living in the homes closing, making sure that the care and safety of residents are safeguarded.”