NEW data shows the scale of recruitment carried out by Halton and Warrington hospitals to ease the strain of coronavirus.

NHS Digital figures show that 1,890 professionally qualified clinical staff were working at Warrington and Halton Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in January – 38 more than in January 2020.

There are now a total of 864 nurses and health visitors working for the trust, which is 22 more than last year, while the number of doctors has increased by 10 to 412.

Other clinical workers recruited include midwives, ambulance and technical staff.

Across England, the number of professionally qualified clinical staff increased by 4.2 per cent, including an extra 9,800 nurses and health visitors and 6,400 doctors.

However, separate figures show that there were 36,200 vacant nursing jobs and 7,000 vacant medical posts in the three months to December.

On the statistics, Dr Helena McKeown, chairman of the British Medical Association, said: “Despite there being some minor increases in staff numbers, this does not go anywhere near far enough to fill the known, as well as unknown, vacancy gaps that currently exist within the NHS.

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“We are in the midst of a serious staffing crisis.

“Given the demands of Covid and the enormous backlog of care the NHS faces – the largest ever – with patient demand outstripping staffing levels, the situation has become even more acute.”

Dr McKeown added that a survey by the BMA revealed thousands of doctors are already planning to leave the NHS as they are struggling to cope with demands.

The union wants the Government to implement measures to retain staff, as well as expanding the medical workforce.

An NHS spokesman said the excellence of existing staff had inspired a 35 per cent increase in nursing degree applications, as well as the increase in number of nurses, doctors and healthcare support workers.

They said: “NHS staff have faced a year like no other, and their response to the pandemic, including caring for 400,000 people with Covid in hospital as well as keeping other routine services going for patients, has been extraordinary.

“The NHS continues to increase support for staff, including a 24/7 health and wellbeing text support line, rapid access to mental health services, and more opportunities for flexible working.”