A top doctor from Somerset claims emergency patients could be at risk because half of the country’s A&E departments are understaffed.
Dr Clifford Mann, registrar at the College of Emergency Medicine and a consultant at Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton, said hospitals nationwide were increasingly struggling to find enough medics.
He told the Mail on Sunday that junior doctors were unwilling to train to become emergency medicine specialists because of the intense workload and failure of hospitals to increase staffing levels.
There are no vacancies for medical work in Musgrove Park’s accident and emergency department and in the last five years numbers in emergency services have increased by 75 per cent.
The situation is worsened by the fact that 10 per cent of all full-time consultancy posts in the country’s 220 A&E units are unfilled, as many training in the NHS have preferred to go abroad to work.
He said the shortages will “undoubtedly” have contributed to the closure or downgrading of casualty departments.
“The key message isn’t so much the vacancies out there, but that there’s no one coming through to fill them,” said Dr Mann.
“A&E departments are the places most people use in a hospital but they don’t have the same level of resources.”
A Department of Health spokesman said the number of consultant emergency doctors had increased by more than 50 per cent in the past five years and that more minor injuries were treated by GPs.