The A&E crisis in the NHS has put such pressure on medics that roughly one A&E doctor per department in London is currently seeking psychological help.
Dr Clifford Mann, president of the College of Emergency Medicine, said at the Hospital Directions conference that the real crisis in A&E was caused by a lack of medics wanting to train in emergency medicine and the few that do being put under increased psychological pressure as a result.
Dr Mann said: “We can’t recruit, we can’t retain, and the people that do stay are about to crack.”
He argued that there were no perks to being and A&E doctor. Weekends and long nights and the constant pressure of working in A&E were not being rewarded the way they should. This on top of inadequate pay and the sensationalism of A&E crisis as it’s portrayed in the media caused the doctors who do train here to move abroad after their training.
“We lost 7% of our consultant workforce last year. We trained them and then they threw in the towel. We aren’t slipping off the edge here, we are about to fall off the cliff,” he said.
He pointed out that half of the A&E doctors working in the State of Victoria in Australia are now British.
This year alone the UK government has spent half a billion on short-term fixes such as locum doctors.
Dr Mann concluded: “I do believe there is light at the end of the tunnel, we just need to turn the argument into action. We can only do that by amending the environment that they work in. The terms and conditions in Australia, New Zealand and Canada are wholly different.”