Dr Clifford Mann, registrar at the College of Emergency Medicine, said half of the 220 A&E units across the country are understaffed, putting huge pressure on already overworked doctors and nurses.

About half of the annual 180 training posts available to junior doctors in the specialism have not been filled for the past two years as young medics are put off by the intense workload and failure of hospitals to increase staff numbers to match the number of patients being admitted.

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