Staff shortages hit A&E wards as doctors become GPs

Most accident and emergency (A&E) departments are facing staffing shortages as doctors leave to take up more lucrative work as GPs, new research shows today.

The figures from a survey of 138 hospitals carried out in October by the British Medical Association (BMA), show that seven in 10 A&E departments have vacancies for staff-grade doctors.

Excluding trainees, around half of the doctors working in A&E in the UK are employed in staff-grade and associate specialist (SAS) positions, which are distinct from consultant posts.

Mohib Khan, chair of the BMA’s Staff and Associate Specialist Committee, said that more than six in 10 (62 per cent) A&E departments have lost a staff-grade doctor to general practice in the past year.

Staffing problems will worsen unless SAS doctors get a new contract that addresses their low morale and reduces disparities with doctors in other types of jobs, he said.

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