Junior doctors and emergency professionals from overseas have been recruited to help out in A&E departments from November as services are expected to see more demand during the colder months.
Throughout winter, A&E units usually see a large influx of patients due in part to the increased prevalence of colds and flu viruses. Many people also sustain injuries after losing their footing in icy conditions, for example.
As the population continues to age and the demand for healthcare increases, medical professionals in A&E departments are likely to feel the strain even more this year. According to the Department of Health, for instance, 3,500 more patients visit A&E units every day compared to the figure reported in 2010.
GP surgeries are also overstretched and many patients are turning to A&E departments due to the shortage of appointments available with their family doctor.
To cope with the rising pressures, doctors from overseas have been drafted in under short-term contracts to support existing staff and a number of junior doctors have been retained in emergency units or have been transferred from other areas.
At Fletchers we understand the struggles that frontline staff face every day to deliver healthcare to the rising number of people relying on the NHS. We believe that taking measures to increase the number of consultants and medical professionals in these departments is a positive step towards improving the quality of healthcare services.
Having said this, there is still a significant shortfall in the number of doctors in A&E departments and other areas of the NHS, such as hospital wards and GP surgeries. The government needs to recruit more doctors to reduce the strain on staff over the long term, not just over winter. For standards of care to improve, staffing levels must be sufficient so that the needs of all patients can be met in a safe and caring environment.