Darent Valley Hospital A&E
Darent Valley Hospital A&E – Photo Credit: kenjonbro via photopin cc

One of Britain’s leading doctors has revealed how he warned the Government of a looming NHS accident and emergency (A&E) staffing crisis three years ago.

Dr Clifford Mann told the Daily Mirror that, “the first warning signs were three years ago when we failed to recruit to 50 per cent of our posts – that was 2010”. However, despite raising his concerns with the Government Dr Mann says he was effectively ignored and left “crying in the wilderness”.

Dr Mann said that there is a shortage of 375 doctors in A&E departments which means that there are “750,000 patients per year who aren’t going to be seen”.

The leading emergency care doctor, who is also the President of the College of Emergency Medicine, has blamed the apparent shortage in nurses and doctors on confusion caused by the coalition government’s healthcare reforms, which he claims “tied us up in knots for a long time”, effectively paralysing decision-making.

Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham said:

“David Cameron’s decision to break his pledge of ‘no top-down re-organisation’ was a monumental misjudgement.

“Doctors and nurses knew the dangers and pleaded with him to call it off.

“The result has been two lost years in the NHS . At a stroke, focus shifted from the front line to the back office – away from issues like the growing recruitment crisis in England’s A&Es.”

Dr Mann’s latest comments appear very different to those made in a press statement released on 18th December 2013 by the College Of Emergency Medicine (see 5 Key challenges for Emergency Medicine 18/12/2013), when Dr Mann said that despite the many challenges faced by the NHS and A&E departments he believed there was “cause for optimism and that the crisis is behind us”.

He went on to say that he was “pleased that the College is seen as a constructive agent in tackling these challenges of delivering safe and sustainable emergency care and that the Government is working with us to put in place a credible plan to address the issues the College has raised.”

The Department of Health (DoE) has admitted that A&E’s are “under pressure” and have said that they are “determined to tackle it”.

Drawing attention to a recent review by NHS Medical Director Sir Bruce Keogh, a spokesperson for the DoE said that they were presented with a “blueprint for how the NHS should respond to demands for emergency services”, and that the review took comments made by Dr Mann on board.