A plan to increase the numbers of doctors working in over-stretched emergency departments across England has been unveiled by Health Education England.

The report, supported by the College of Emergency Medicine, will see an extra 75 emergency medicine training posts created annually for junior doctors over a three year period starting in 2014.

There will also be changes to the training pathway to support junior medics while more training places will be opened up to foreign doctors to work in the UK over a longer period.

Other doctors who have trained in different specialities may also be allowed to switch to emergency medicine without having to start their training from the beginning.

Around 50 per cent of training places for emergency medicine are vacant, leading to a shortage of middle grade doctors in accident and emergency departments. The College of Emergency Medicine has also warned there are too few consultants to offer the best quality care.

Junior doctors begin training in emergency medicine by completing two years on the acute care common stem training programme. They then have to apply for further higher training. At this point about half of trainees on the programme choose to join other specialties perceived as offering a better quality of life such as anaesthesia or acute medicine.

Under HEE’s plans, junior doctors will train on a “run through” programme without the need to re-apply as they progress and could do a year of emergency medicine under ACCS.

Discussions are also taking place with the Home Office to allow overseas doctors at middle grade level to train on a four year education programme in the UK helping to increase staffing levels and support junior doctors working in A&E departments. It is expected around 50 doctors will join this programme in 2014.

A joint statement by HEE chief executive Ian Cumming and College of Emergency Medicine president Clifford Mann said: “We recognise the difficulties of workforce development in emergency medicine, particularly the shortage of consultants resulting from poor recruitment into middle grade training posts, which we have inherited.

“Much has already been done and we have made considerable progress but we know more hard work will be required to develop and implement sustainable solutions.”

A national workforce plan published by HEE yesterday also revealed plans to increase ACCS training posts by 5.6 per cent, or 20 posts, in September 2014. Overall there will be a 2.5 per cent rise in emergency medicine training with 1,060 training posts.