SOUTHEND Hospital has come under fire from the TaxPayers’ Alliance for spending money on PR rather than on frontline staff.

Research collated from the pressure group revealed the hospital is paying the head of communications and the equality and diversity manager £43,414 a year each.

Questions have been raised as to whether the hospital should be spending so much on these roles when it revealed last week it had a shortfall of 120 nurses.

The hospital is recruiting from Spain and Ireland to try to fill the gap.

Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the Taxpayers' Alliance, said: “Taxpayers expect the health budget to be spent on real doctors, not spin doctors.

“The NHS employs far too many people in jobs that do nothing to deliver frontline patient care. It’s time for health chiefs to ensure the NHS budget is spent on patients rather than squandered on bureaucrats.”

The East of England Ambulance Service has also been criticised for spending £217,023 on five members of staff within its communication team.

However, it insisted the cost has been reduced by more than £50,000 since the report was published last year and promised to reinvest the money into frontline services.

A spokesman for the service said: “The trust is reviewing all of its support services, including the communications team, to maximise the amount of money it can put into staffing ambulances.

“The communications team provides a vital reference point for patients, stakeholders and the media, raising awareness of the work of the ambulance service and its dedicated staff, how to use the 999 service and driving forward transparency.”