Fully home grown doctor workforce – Medicine thrives on experience from abroad. There is irony in a short term recruitment solution ..

The lack of British Trained doctors is a long term problem. Supply of enough doctors for the next 5-10 years is a relatively short term problem. Ironically, solving the short term plays into the hands of the deniers, as the longer term shortage is not made evident to patients.

The BMJ letters opines on the promise for a “Fully home grown doctor workforce” –  Medicine thrives on experience from abroad (BMJ 2016;355:i5699 )

It is staggering that it has taken the secretary of state for health, Jeremy Hunt, four years in that position to concede that the NHS is not self sufficient in producing the correct number of doctors.1

This initiative will not mean more “domestic” doctors if the removal of the cap also applies to international students wishing to study at UK medical schools. An additional levy from these students would make them more attractive to universities, which would have the opposite effect to the policy’s aim.

Medicine is an international community of learning, which thrives on the interchange of experience and knowledge. It thrives on British doctors being able to go abroad and serve communities—and, more importantly for patients in the NHS, it thrives on overseas doctors being able to bring their experience from abroad over here.

Training more doctors is a welcome move, but it should not be seen as an alternative to recruiting highly skilled and expert overseas staff. To simply close our borders would be terrible for patient care. Without international doctors the NHS would not be able to cope.

The GMC must now ask whether the significant increase in medical students on wards and in theatres is safe. Clinical placements remain saturated in the context of the current cap, so this is a difficulty that cannot be ignored.

Retaining the current workforce has to be the priority. We can have more doctors if we make the NHS attractive for those who currently work in it.

The Australians are re-thinking about their own shortage of GPs, having attracted so many British ones! Alex MAtthews-King reports 2nd November 2016: Australia may drop GPs from shortage occupation list amid ‘excess supply’

Sofia Lind reports that: MPs to debate Capita’s GP support service failures in Parliament, and whilst this may be important they should be debating the manpower services provision and planning failures over decades.


This entry was posted in A Personal View, Rationing, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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