HOSPITAL bosses have defended their recruitment policy after it was revealed Whiston Hospital’s A&E was understaffed by around eight per cent.
An investigation by the BBC found that 11 of the 131 positions at the hospital’s casualty department remained unfilled.
It is believed the shortfall is regularly made up by employing bank and agency staff.
A spokeswoman for St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Whiston Hospital, defended the way positions are filled.
She said: “Since opening the new Whiston Hospital, the trust has experienced a significant increase in demand for A&E services.
“The trust has responded by increasing staffing levels and is currently recruiting to new positions in the A&E department.
“The trust has a register of qualified bank staff to fill vacant positions until permanent staff members are recruited.”
The revelations about staffing levels, made following a Freedom of Information Act request, prompted nursing leaders to criticise current staffing levels.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said a survey of its members nationwide found 85 per cent said patient safety is being compromised by the strain on the departments.
Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN, said: “Staff enter the health profession to save and improve lives through first class care.
“However they simply cannot deliver this if there are too few staff to properly treat and monitor the increasing numbers of patients.”