Nursing vacancies concerns Betsi Cadwaladr health board
Wales' largest health board has admitted "concern" because they have more than 500 vacancies for nurses.
A report to the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board has revealed 10% of nursing staff posts across north Wales need to be filled.
"We are using agencies to support that gap," said Gill Harris, executive director of nursing and midwifery.
Figures show the health board paid more than £40m, the highest amount in Wales, on agency and locum staff in 2015/16.
There are also vacancies for 37 health care assistants across the region's hospitals, including its three major accident and emergency units in Bangor, Wrexham and Bodelwyddan.
The health board, meeting in Llandudno, also heard services had been "increasingly pressurised" this week but members were told "we're better prepared than we were last year" for winter pressures.
Betsi Cadwaladr has staged recruitment events in the area aimed at nursing graduates and has started documentation checks in an effort to speed up the recruitment process to fill the 500 vacancies.
"It is a lot and it is of concern to the health board," admitted Ms Harris.
"But to put that into perspective that's within 1% or 2% of what other places are experiencing - and that level of nursing vacancies includes mental health, primary care and midwifery staff.
"We are drawing on external support. We are prepared for winter and have the staffing ...but our challenge is to recruit more staff to meet the demand that our public require."
The report also revealed sickness levels among staff was exacerbating the problem, with 6,028 nursing days lost during September, the equivalent of 274 nurses being unavailable for the whole month. In addition, the equivalent of 202 health care workers were absent.