GPs and senior nurses will be part of medical teams that respond to 999 calls due to a shortage of A&E consultants, under new proposals.

Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust (BHRUT), which runs King George Hospital in Goodmayes and Queen's in Romford, submitted the plan to the borough's Care Commissiong Group (CCG) of GPs in an attempt to reduce demand on stretched emergency departments.

It is hoped doctors and nurses will be able to treat elderly patients who have suffered minor injuries at home or at clinics, preventing the need to admit them to hospital.

The CCG has struck a deal with London Ambulance Service, despite costs not being agreed.

BHRUT has one of the largest debts in the country and has been severely criticised for its quality of care by watchdog the Care Quality Commission.

The trust has said care standards were affected by its inability to hire permanent A&E doctors.

A London Ambulance Service spokeswoman said: “We can confirm we are in discussions with Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust to explore alternative care plans for the elderly community to help ease A&E pressure.”

“But we will always send out an ambulance to emergency 999 calls.”

A spokesperson for Redbridge CCG said: "Where clinically appropriate, we know people would prefer to be cared for and treated at home."

It is hoped the new processes will be rolled out by the end of the month.

BHRUT was placed in special measures in December last year and referred to helath secretary Jeremy Hunt over concerns about its plan to deal with a debt of £38million.