Top doctors fear a consultant shortage in Yorkshire and the Humber is hitting patient safety, warns Sheffield MP Louise Haigh

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Top doctors have warned of a shortage in consultants which has “direct implications for patient safety”, a Yorkshire MP will reveal today.

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has written a letter to the region’s MPs to say that nearly half of advertised posts in Yorkshire and the Humber are not filled with new appointments, Labour frontbencher Louise Haigh will tell a parliamentary debate.

Though our hospitals still provide expert care, relentlessly drawing upon the goodwill of physicians, who cannot possibly provide the best possible care when under such pressure, is unsustainable.

Louise Haigh

The shortfall is “systematic and shocking”, she will say.

In acute medicine only five out of 26 posts advertised in the region are successfully filled with new appointments.

Ms Haigh will tell the Westminster Hall debate: “Though our hospitals still provide expert care, relentlessly drawing upon the goodwill of physicians, who cannot possibly provide the best possible care when under such pressure, is unsustainable.”

In the letter, the RCP warns that hospitals are “underfunded , underdoctored and overstretched”.

“This won’t be news to anyone who has been tracking the crisis in the NHS in recent years. However, the shortage in doctors and consultants revealed by the RCP is systematic and shocking,” Ms Haigh will say.

In some areas the pressure on the health service compounded by the shortage of consultants is leading to delays in cancer treatment, she will warn.

The MP has called a debate on the impact of austerity on changes in life expectancy.

Addressing a “huge spike in mortality” which began in January 2015 and has been continuing since, Ms Haigh will say: “While it is axiomatic that life expectancy cannot increase forever and a slowing in its growth and concurrent rise in mortality rates was at some point to be expected – it is the sudden change that looks unnatural.

“It coincides with the era of austerity and it is simply not conceivable that the state of our public realm and of our NHS has nothing to do with it.”

Ms Haigh will say hospitals are now warning of an “eternal winter” after the number of patients receiving urgent care within four hours fell to a record low in March.

“The safety of patients is being compromised. And austerity is a driver of that,” she will say.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said there was currently a record number of consultants working in the NHS, with an increase of at least 10,200, the equivalent of 28.6 per cent, since May 2010.

Cuts shorten lives, MP says

Healthy life expectancy is “unacceptably low” in too many areas of Britain, Labour’s Louise Haigh will warn.

The Sheffield Heeley MP will highlight research showing healthy life expectancy for women in the city - 57.5 - has dropped by four years since 2009-11 while holding steady elsewhere.

“Our city has suffered much over the last decade, first from the financial crisis, when our economy shrunk by almost as much as Greece.

“Since then we have been subject to vast cuts to the council’s funding.

“This is putting strain on services right across the spectrum as the safety net falls away.”