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.
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.