MORE than 100 new clinical workers have joined Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, which oversees The Royal Oldham Hospital, amid national "staffing crisis".

NHS Digital figures show that 5,010 professionally qualified clinical staff were working at the trust, in January – 114 more than in January 2020.

There are now a total of 2,554 nurses and health visitors – 35 more than last year and 1,108 doctors – 28 more than the previous year.

The total number of clinical workers increased from 4,896 in January 2020, to 5,010 at the start of this year. Other clinical workers include midwives, ambulance and technical staff.

Across England, the number of professionally qualified clinical staff make up more than half of the hospital and community health service workforce.

In January, the number of such workers 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.

Dr Helena McKeown, chairman of the British Medical Association (BMA), 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. 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 and double the number of medical school places over the next decade.

The Royal College for Nursing (RCN) meanwhile warned it was a false economy to recruit more nurses, without keeping the experienced staff to train them.

Pat Cullen, RCN acting chief executive, said: "Every unfilled nurse job piles the pressure on other staff and jeopardises safe care for patients.”

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.

The spokesman added: “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."