Senior doctors are leaving A&E units in Britain, with one in 25 emergency consultants emigrating last year.

In 2013, 44 of the most senior A&E doctors left Britain, with most seeking employment in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. That is compared to just 15 in 2012 and two in 2009.

Over the past four years, nearly 100 consultants have left A&E units, with nine emigrating in January 2014 alone.

There are staffing issues across the board, as last year it was announced that half of A&E training posts are unfilled, with junior doctors choosing to specialise in other areas of medicine.

Cliff Mann, president of the College of Emergency Medicine, blamed the rising pressure placed upon A&E practitioners.

“At times it’s obvious that staff are running around like headless chickens trying to cope and patients do report that people in A&E are exhausted and burning out”, he said.

Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patient’s Association, described the figures as “shocking”. She added:

“Many of these patients are very vulnerable and in extreme pain and discomfort and need reassurance that they will be examined and treated by competent staff in the A&E.”

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said: “These worrying new figures raise the alarming prospect that A&E in England is now trapped in a downward spiral. A&E doctors have left the NHS in droves because of the relentless pressure.

“Hospital A&Es in England have missed the government’s waiting target for 46 weeks running. The government cannot evade responsibility for creating this vicious circle.”

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