The figures, in Freedom of Information disclosures, come amid efforts to negotiate a new contract for more than 40,000 consultants.Currently, consultants can refuse all but emergencies during evenings, nights and weekends – and charge a great deal for such shifts.NHS negotiators have drawn up proposed changes which would see this opt-out removed, with an extension of regular hours to cover more of the weekend. But three years after talks begun, no deal has been agreed.Union negotiators are understood to be satisfied with the proposed changes, but fearful of a backlash from members, after much anger when changes were proposed for junior doctors’ contracts. NHS Accident & Emergency departments are being run with no consultants present for more than 40 per cent of the time, an audit has found.At some units, the most senior person on duty is a junior doctor who finished medical school the previous year, the figures show.Others have relied on GPs to stand in for hospital consultants, the Daily Telegraph investigation reveals. Sometimes GPs have stood in at hospitalsCredit:Peter Byrne /PA Credit:Dominic Lipinski/PA The Telegraph asked hospitals about A&E staffingCredit:Chris Radburn /PA Figures from across the NHS show that the vast majority of A&E units are now regularly operating without a single consultant present.Every hospital trust in England was asked to provide details of the medical cover in their A&E departments from August 7 to 13. Of 119 hospitals – from 97 of England’s 154 acute trusts – six had a consultant present at all times.On average, consultants were present just 59 per cent of the time. Often this meant the most senior person left on duty was a junior doctor, undergoing specialist training. In some cases, trainee doctors little more than a year out of medical school were left in charge.At Salisbury District Hospital, in Wiltshire, four out of seven nights were run by a junior doctor entering their second year of foundation training. On the remaining nights, the most senior medic was a junior doctor in specialist training. Friarage Hospital in North Yorkshire and Pontefract Hospital each had no consultants working at the weekend. Huddersfield Hospital had no senior doctors working on the Sunday, while Ealing Hospital had a consultant present for three hours each day. Twelve hospitals managed less than seven hours on one or either weekend day. They were: Airedale General; Conquest Hospital, Hastings; Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital, Grimsby; Eastbourne District General; Furness General; George Eliot Hospital; Lister Hospital; Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Gateshead; Scunthorpe General; Torbay District General and William Harvey Hospital, in Kent. Salisbury NHS Foundation trust, which runs Salisbury District Hospital, said the junior doctor was supported by an on-call A&E consultant.A spokesman for Mid Yorks Hospitals trust said Pontefract Hospital had no A&E consultant on site, but that the junior doctor in charge could get support from a consultant at Pinderfields General Hospital.A spokesman for South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation trust, which runs Friarage Hospital, said an A&E consultant was available by telephone. Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS trust, which runs Huddersfield Hospital, said it could only provide seven-day cover if it centralised services on one site. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. At Pontefract Hospital, a GP was left in charge of A&E from midnight to 8am all week. The only hospitals shown to provide consultant cover throughout the period were Royal London Hospital, St George’s Hospital, in south London, Royal Sussex County Hospital, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle, Northumbria Specialist Emergency Hospital and Salford Royal Hospital.At other hospitals, junior doctors were commonly left in charge for long periods, with senior A&E doctors “on call” by phone.The figures show a dramatic worsening in access to hospital consultants at weekends and evenings, even though the early hours of Saturdays and Sundays are busier than any other night, with the highest levels of attendances linked to assaults.Overall, 67 out of 119 units had fewer consultants present at the weekends than during the week. At 15 hospitals, a consultant was present for seven hours or less on weekend days.