Shortages of key doctors leave gaps in A&E care

problems recruiting doctors to key roles are driving up costs in hospitals which already face significant extra costs of a move to seven-day working.

The difficulties are particularly acute in elderly care and in A&E, where gaps on rotas particularly among middle-grade doctors – those below consultant level who are often on duty through the night and at weekends – are posing a significant national crisis.

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A survey by The Yorkshire Post has found around one in seven consultant posts in A&E in the region lie vacant, while one in three speciality trainee posts, which are key to the future supply of specialists, are also empty. In Leeds, Sheffield, Bradford and the Mid Yorkshire trust, half of trainee roles are vacant. Hospitals in the region are being forced to pay out huge sums for locum doctors. One 12-hour shift for a registrar in March in Barnsley’s A&E cost £1,020 – £85 an hour. Some hospitals are turning to international recruitment or employing specialist nurses in new roles.

Health Education England said it was creating additional training post to fill gaps for middle-grade doctors. A spokesman said: “Trusts are now starting to look differently at patient need and services and introducing greater skill mix roles, creating better usage of all healthcare professionals to maximise their potential.”