Dozens of extra foreign doctors have been drafted in to help NHS hospitals head off a winter crisis, Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, will announce today.
They are among 260 extra doctors who will bolster accident and emergency units as pressure continues to grow on hospitals across England.
Extra numbers of junior doctors have this year opted to work in emergency medicine and they will be joined within weeks by new overseas recruits on fixed-term contracts, Mr Hunt will reassure MPs.
The move comes amid fears among ministers that hospitals could find it difficult to cope if the country is hit by prolonged cold weather or a serious outbreak of flu or a vomiting bug.
The pressure on A&E units has been exacerbated by soaring numbers of people turning up to ask for help, many because they face long waits to get an appointment with their family doctor.
Some experts believe the NHS faces a £2bn funding black hole as it struggles to keep pace with an ageing population and medical inflation.
But Mr Hunt will tell MPs that around 1,000 more medics will soon be working in English A&E departments than four years ago. Staffing for the Scottish and Welsh health services are devolved to the two nations.
The English recruitment drive has led to 101 more junior doctors specialising in emergency medicine than a year ago and 51 more than normal have opted not to switch to a different specialism. In addition, 58 junior doctors have transferred from other disciplines.
Meanwhile, 50 experienced medics from India, Malaysia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have been hired on fixed-term contracts starting next month.
Mr Hunt said: “We know some parts of the NHS are under pressure. That is why we are investing in a record number of A&E doctors so patients continue to get treated quickly.
The recruitment drive was launched by the College of Emergency Medicine in partnership with Health Education England (HEE).
Professor Wendy Reid, the HEE’s director of education and quality, said: “The overseas doctors had to pass rigorous English language and visa checks, and they signed contracts to ‘work, learn and return’ within four years.”
She added: “By working across the health system and particularly with the College of Emergency Medicine, HEE has shown that we can raise the profile of a medical specialty and improve recruitment."Reuse content