The NHS in England is facing a "crisis" because it is struggling to recruit and retain enough doctors, leading medics have warned.

In a damning report on the state of the health service, the British Medical Association (BMA) said the NHS is at "breaking point" and patient care will "suffer" if the government doesn't "get to grips" with the situation.

The study found there has been a 13% drop in applications to medical school since 2013 - and almost half of EU doctors are considering leaving the health service since the referendum result.

The BMA warned that the "understaffed and chronically underfunded" NHS is having a "huge impact" on doctors' morale and wellbeing.

The report also stated that:

  • training places across almost three in four medical specialties in England went unfilled last year

  • applications to the foundation programme - the first year of doctors' training following medical school - are decreasing while applications to specialty training are also dwindling

  • a reduction in the number of doctors progressing through training will have a significant impact on the health service's ability to provide safe and timely specialist care

Where is the shortage of doctors being felt most?

While workforce shortages in some fields - such as general practice, emergency medicine, paediatrics and the psychiatry - are well known, other smaller specialties are finding it "increasingly difficult" to recruit new trainees.

These include, allergy, clinical pharmacology, endocrinology, haematology and sexual health medicine, according to the report.

The authors said this shortage could call into question the NHS' ability to continue providing these services in the same way they are currently provided.

What does the BMA say?

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of council at the BMA, said: "It is deeply concerning that we are seeing a drop off at each stage of doctors' training, we have to ask why some, who have spent many years training to become a doctor, are deciding not to continue in the profession.

"If the government doesn't get to grips with this workforce crisis, the NHS will struggle to attract and retain highly trained staff, and patient care will suffer as a result."

What does the Government say?

Responding to the report, a Department of Health spokesman said: "England's growing and ageing population creates a number of challenges for the NHS, including ensuring the right workforce to meet changing needs.

"That is why we have recruited 11,600 more doctors to the NHS since May 2010, and last year the NHS recruited the highest number of GP trainees ever.

"We also recently announced the largest ever expansion to the medical workforce - an extra 1,500 doctors per year by 2020."