Staff shortages have forced the closure of the A&E department at Pontefract Hospital each night from 22:00 until 08:00 the next day.
The closure which began on the 1st November 2011 has been widely criticised by local residents and is now under review by the health watchdog.
The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust is now considering using Army medical staff to provide support on a temporary basis to allow the unit to re-open. This is not the first time the NHS has taken such an approach to cover staff shortages. Last November, Stafford Hospital used Army trained staff to keep its A&E department open overnight.
The College of Emergency Medicine (CEM) has warned Britain is suffering from a national shortfall of mid-ranking doctors with one in four places unfilled. Vice-president of the CEM Taj Hassan said: “With mid-ranking doctors there is a shortage of, on average, 25% nationally. In some areas it’s a lot worse.”
Sharon Banga, Clinical Negligence compensation specialist at Thompsons Solicitors commented: “Local residents who rely on Pontefract’s A&E department will now have to travel further for emergency treatment which means delay and possibly additional complications in treatment. The closure also puts additional strain on resources in other areas.
“Recruiting army trained staff is neither realistic short or long term. The trust need to address the source of the problem and not fall back on the army who have other things to do”.
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