MP Frank Field has now called on hospitals in the area to provide more certainty for nurses and patients

Hospitals on Merseyside spent £67m on temporary workers last year, according to figures obtained by an MP, who has raised concerns about the impact on patient care.

Birkenhead MP Frank Field has now called on hospitals in the area to provide more certainty for nurses and patients.

According to figures obtained in response to a Parliamentary question, Aintree University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Fazakerley hospital, spent the largest amount on agency and contract staff – £10.3m – followed by Warrington and Halton NHS Hospitals Foundation Trust, which spent £9.1m.

Mersey Care NHS Trust were third highest with a spend of £7.5m, followed by St Helens and Knowsley Hospitals NHS Trust at £6.6m.

The Labour MP said: “Local residents know their NHS is desperately short of money, and staffing levels are critical. Hospitals are having to plug the gaps by paying sky-high amounts for temporary workers. I am really worried about the impact of this on patient care, for two reasons – the high turnover of staff in hospital wards can create uncertainty, both for nurses and patients, and the huge sum of money required to hire temps is adding yet more salt into the gaping wounds in the NHS budget.”

In response, a spokesman for Fazakerley hospital said the figures were not specific to nurses and covered a range of staff groups, and said its spending on temporary staff – which allows it to respond to changes in demand – last year accounted for less than 6% of total staffing costs. A spokesman for Warrington and Halton Hospitals said it spent around £6.9m on agency staffing last year – less than 5% of its total wage bill – adding it was committed to reducing spending on temporary staffing, and has been recruiting to fill vacant posts this year.

A Mersey Care spokesman said that, at times of higher demand, it was important the trust could call on additional temporary staffing to support its permanent workforce, adding that, wherever possible, temporary workers were used from its bank of in-house agency staff.

While a spokesperson for St Helens and Knowsley hospitals said on occasions it was necessary to supplement its workforce with additional staff to cover vacancies, maternity leave and unplanned absences, to ensure safe staffing levels were maintained at all times.

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