December 13 2013 Latest news:
Lizzie Dearden, Reporter
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Doctors from Australia, India and the United Arab Emirates could soon be flying in to staff the A&E department at King George Hospital.
Specialist recruitment companies are been hired specifically to look for staff outside the UK in a move to combat staff shortages.
Figures released earlier this month showed the trust behind the hospital, in Barley Lane, Goodmayes, has the largest shortfall of clinical emergency department staff in the country.
Around 64 per cent of posts for consultants and other senior doctors remain unfilled.
Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT) has been relying on locum and agency workers to staff the busy A&Es at King George and Queen’s Hospital, in Romford.
Staffing at the hospital was criticised by a health watchdog earlier this year in a damning report.
The Care Quality Commission found that although 16 consultants should cover the A&E, there are only 10 permanent consultants to cover departments at both Queen’s and King George Hospital.
The report said that although there is a “national shortage” of emergency department doctors, the trust had “long-standing problems” recruiting to A&E and the number of permanent consultants has not increased since July 2011.
BHRUT chief executive Averil Dongworth said the trust is “working hard” to recruit permanent, high quality staff.
She added: “There is a national shortage of A&E consultants and we, along with many other trusts, are looking to recruit experienced doctors overseas.
“We are working with specialist recruitment companies in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, India and the UAE to find high calibre staff for our busy A&E service.
“While we work to recruit more permanent staff to the department, we are using agency and locum cover to work alongside our own dedicated and experienced team to ensure that all A&E shifts are fully staffed so that patients are receiving safe, high quality care.”
The emergency department at King George Hospital is set to be axed in 2015, although the health secretary has said it will not close until the move is “clinically safe”.
Demand at Queen’s Hospital – already one of the busiest and slowest in London - is expected to increase when the widely-opposed closure takes place.
Cllr Andy Walker, of the Save King George Hospital campaign, said the closure plan “must be dropped now”.