Accident and Emergency departments in English hospitals are so short of consultants that many are failing to have even one on duty at all times.

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine says that more than 3,000 extra A&E consultants are needed to keep up with the rising number of admissions.

As it is, the 176 major A&E units have just 5,300 consultants to provide 24 hour care to more than 40,000 patients every day.

The College said this means “there are insufficient consultants in post to provide even one on duty…for even 16 hours per day.”

Poor performing becoming “the norm”

The warning comes as the Commons Health Select Committee issues a report stating that A&E units are continually missing targets, with poor performing becoming “the norm”.

This will make the following months all the more difficult for A&E departments, as experts predict the NHS is facing “its toughest winter yet.”

Nigel Edwards, chief executive of the Nuffield Trust, said: “The NHS is going into its toughest winter yet with the odds stacked against it.”

“Demand for healthcare is on the rise, funding for both health and social care is being squeezed and A&E departments are missing their targets.”

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