A third of A&E doctors leaving NHS to work “in a non toxic environment” abroad

Laura Donelly in The Telegraph reports 2nd October 2015: A third of A&E doctors leaving NHS to work abroad – Britain’s most senior casualty doctor says British Accident & Emergency doctors are leaving the country in large numbers

Don’t worry, we will recruit from overseas….. Mr Hunt seems completely oblivious to the loss of personnel and skills, including pathology and post mortems, and how this will devalue and undermine the altruism which is needed to run an effective health service.


A third of NHS Accident & Emergency doctors have fled abroad in the past five years, due to “toxic” levels of pressure, Britain’s most senior casualty doctor has said.

Dr Cliff Mann said the health service is facing “an existentialist crisis” squandering hundreds of millions of pounds training doctors who turn their back on the NHS, and yet more plugging gaps with locums.

Half of trainee casualty doctors – each costing around half a million pounds to train – are abandoning the speciality within four years, the president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine said.

To cover the shortages, the NHS is now spending as much on locums in a fortnight as it would cost to run a whole A&E unit for a year, he disclosed – a situation he described as “madness”. Widespread shortages are leaving patients facing ever longer waits in casualty, he told a conference in London, with far too many left to endure “pretty awful care”.

In total, more than 600 consultants and trainee A&E doctors have gone abroad in five years he said, with the vast majority seeking a new life in Australia.

Had they stayed, they could have treated 25 million patients over the course of their careers, he said.On current trends, within a decade Britain will spend more money training casualty doctors who emigrate than it does on those who stay here, he said.

Dr Mann spoke out as the British Medical Association raised fears of an exodus of junior doctors, amid a growing backlash against a proposed new contract which could see them lose premium pay rates on evenings and Saturdays.

A&E crisis: What is responsible for the pressure?

More than 1,600 UK doctors registered to work overseas in just three days last week – twenty times as many as normal.

“We are in an existential crisis,” Dr Mann told a King’s Fund conference in London.“We now train about 250 trainees a year and we lose 50 per cent of them when we get to year four. If this carries on like this, within 10 years we will have trained more doctors in Emergency Medicine that work overseas than work in the UK.”

He suggested it was “absurd” that the NHS was allowing the situation to develop.

“People say we haven’t got the money to sort this out – well this is clearly nonsense. If you take an average A&E department it costs £6.5m to run per years.

“Trusts spend ever more money on locums to prop the whole thing up – which is why we are squandering £3m a week on locums,” he told the conference. “Every fortnight we spend on locums what it costs to run an emergency department for a year.”

Junior doctors threaten strike over new contracts

“In the last five years 510 trainees have emigrated to Australia and New Zealand and 110 consultants have similarly emigrated,” he said. “A third of our workforce has gone.”

“We’ve spent a lot of money training these people. Each of these people cost half a milion pounds to train and they now pay taxes to another Government – the Australian government.”

Dr Mann said it was crucial for the NHS to do more to stop high levels of burnout among A&E doctors.

Those emigrating– the vast majority to Australia – said they went abroad because such their hospitals were better staffed, with lower stress levels and a “non-toxic environment” he said.

“They are going because they are fed up of working in places that are understaffed and overworked,” he said.

This entry was posted in A Personal View, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

One thought on “A third of A&E doctors leaving NHS to work “in a non toxic environment” abroad

  1. Pingback: GP Occupational Health – too little too late. Lack of trust may ensure the service is ignored.. Say goodbye to continuity of care… | NHS reality. An NHS soapbox. Speakers' corner for the NHS.

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