MORE than 150 nursing staff have been offered jobs as part of the recruitment drive to ease pressure on staff at Basildon Hospital.

The hospital is spending £1.8million recruiting extra nurses and healthcare assistants to cover an increase in the number of beds and cut its reliance on agency staff.

The hospital plans to hire a total of on 200 extra staff by November, with new recruits coming from Essex, universities and from Spain and the Philippines.

Chief executive Clare Panniker said 157 people had been offered posts so far.

All the hospital’s vacant healthcare assistant posts had now been filled.

She added: “We are holding about 20 interviews a week and at the end of the month, we will begin overseas recruitment in Madrid.”

Mrs Panniker said although the hospital was now close to its 200 target, it would still look to Europe to recruit more workers because of a high turnover of staffing at the hospital.

However, she pointed out this was not a problem unique to Basildon.

She added: “About 18 nurses a month leave. There is a high turnover of nursing staff, because we are near London and opportunities do come up.

“If we end up over-recruited and we’re able to reduce the number of bank and agency staff, that’s better from my perspective, because we will turn over staff.

“It’s better to have slightly too many staff than too few.”