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Plan to boost doctor numbers contains ‘risk’ to NHS

Quarter of NHS doctors from overseas still needed, say leaders

Adrian O'Dowd

Monday, 10 October 2016

Doctors’ leaders have warned that the government’s plans to boost home-trained doctors for the NHS may risk the support of doctors trained overseas who currently work for the NHS.

In a joint letter published in The Guardian newspaper at the weekend, Professor Jane Dacre, president of the Royal College of Physicians, and Miss Clare Marx, president of the Royal College of Surgeons, both warned NHS doctors who originally trained overseas had been left feeling demoralised and unvalued as a result of the government’s plans.

Last week, health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced that the number of medical school places is to increase by 25% (1,500 extra places) a year so that by 2025, the NHS in England will be “self-sufficient”.

In their letter, Professor Dacre and Miss Marx said doctors and all NHS staff should be valued and supported, regardless of where they came from.

“While the recent announcement by the secretary of state of 1,500 extra medical school places is welcome, as over a quarter of current NHS doctors are from overseas, the extra places will not in themselves produce a self-sufficient UK medical workforce and we will still need our overseas doctors,” they wrote.

“The announcement has led to our colleagues from overseas feeling that they may not be as valued as UK doctors and is affecting morale – we cannot let this happen.”

The NHS had benefitted from these doctors’ talents, abilities and will to work so the UK had to continue to support them, despite the “insecurity caused by the Brexit situation” and reassure them that they were valued and needed, they argued.

“Diseases know no country borders, and medicine has therefore developed as an international profession, with global cooperation in research, drug development, standards of patient care, and free movement of doctors around the world,” they said.

“This model has served the UK and the NHS well for decades – moving away from that model is a major risk to the success of the NHS.”

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