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Doctors warned yesterday that Britain's accident and emergency departments are under "intolerable pressure" and have called for urgent action.
They say that more than 60 per cent of doctors staffing A&E units have reported that their job "is not sustainable in its current form," as well as warning that young doctors are quitting to work outside Britain because the problems are so bad.
The College of Emergency Medicine surveyed 1,077 emergency medicine consultants and found that 94 per cent regularly worked more than their contracted hours to maintain services, causing "potentially serious repercussions" for safe working.
"The results show a worrying trend," the college's report states.
College vice president and report co-author Dr Taj Hassan said: "The college is working with its members and fellows to help them do all they can in this challenging situation but we need prompt action by relevant stakeholders on the three key recommendations in this report."
The college has reported that by August this year 21 emergency consultants had quit, compared to two in the whole of 2009.
And government figures show a trebling to 39 in the number of A&E units failing to meet a four-hour target for seeing patients.
Dr Hassan said: "Senior medical decision makers in emergency medicine provide one of the most vital strands in maintaining safety for emergency care systems in the UK.
"A failure to address these issues will compromise this ability and also further worsen the present workforce crisis affecting emergency departments."
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