Military doctors will be drafted in to help Stafford Hospital's crisis-hit accident and emergency department, it has emerged.
Two emergency consultants normally treating injured soldiers will be taking on shifts at the hospital A&E within weeks. They will be used by the hospital to beef up its staffing in A&E, which is suffering from a chronic shortage.
It is believed the doctors have been sent by the Department of Health after bosses at the troubled hospital issued a desperate plea for help in order to keep the A&E department safe for patients.
The two doctors will fill two of the vacant consultant posts in A&E which has been struggling to recruit staff for years.
Only four of the six consultants posts in A&E are full with one of those by a locum and only eight of 11 middle grade doctor posts are filled with gaps covered by agency staff.
Currently one of the two main consultants is on extended sick leave and planned recruitment in the summer failed as candidates withdrew before interviews.
Most nursing vacancies have been filled but the new nursing team has several junior nurses and a high level of sickness.
The hospital has been working with expert Dr Ian Sturgess from the emergency care intense support team at the Department of Health to try to resolve its problems.
It is also spending too much money on temporary or locum staff and is now overspent by £332,000.
Bosses at the trust have given themselves until the start of November to turn around the problems in A&E or it will consider drastic options including the possibility of closing the department at evenings and weekends. During these times emergency patients will be sent to other hospitals in North Staffordshire and Wolverhampton.
The hospital was issued with a formal warning by the NHS watchdog the Care Quality Commission earlier this month after it found the department was short-staffed.
The CQC said plans to tackle shortages were not robust enough to ensure the safety and welfare of patients.
Claire Hall, spokeswo man for the Mid Staffordshire Trust said: "I can confirm two emergency medical consultants are coming to help in the A&E department at Stafford Hospital."