There are just four senior A&E consultants in Lincolnshire – a figure well short of a rumoured new target of 30 which could be introduced.
This figure spells out the issues United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust, which runs the Pilgrim, has in attracting and keeping specialist staff.
Supporting the Spalding Guardian’s campaign to save A&E and maternity services at Boston’s Pilgrim Hospital will help underline the need for a recruitment drive.
The matter was raised at a recent House of Commons East Midlands Councils Health Summit.
Coun Stephen Woodliffe, of Boston Borough council, said: “I pointed out that I understood Lincolnshire has only four senior A&E consultants employed across Lincolnshire’s A&E units when it appears that the regulations require a staff of 30.
“We will all work together to encourage doctors and nurses to come to Boston – elected members will do all that is possible to achieve that end. However, we must be realistic, as there is a growing national shortage of these highly qualified people, largely due to insufficient numbers being trained in the last decade under the previous Government.
“Because of that shortage, medical professionals will have to be recruited from abroad which will be increasingly difficult to manage and fund.”
The target of 30 A&E senior consultants looks likely to be recommended by Sir Bruce Keogh, although is not yet in place. It would relate to ten per A&E department, with three such departments in the county.
A spokesman for ULHT said the four senior A&E consultants are currently assisted by eight locums.
They said that the requirements were part of the drive for hospital bosses to look to change the way they run services in Lincolnshire.
They said: “One of the reasons why we are looking at redesigning emergency care services across the county is that it is all about making a safer and sustainable service.
“We don’t have the workforce to staff three 24/7 A&Es.
“Boston and Lincoln, with their populations, will need a 24/7 A&E.”
The spokesman said the trust is working to try to make our hospitals an attractive place to work but said there is a national shortage, especially in the pressured environment of A&E, where many senior doctors are often enticed to take lucrative contracts abroad in places such as Austrailia.
They added: “A&E is not a speciality that a lot of doctors want to get into.”
She said demand on A&E is currently up three per cent – with departments often seeing 500 people a weekend.