Figures have shown that over half of new doctors employed in the UK have been recruited from abroad for the first time in a decade. The NHS is reportedly importing more foreign doctors than it is training as they struggle to balance their workforce with and ever increasing demand.
In 2018, there were 7,186 UK medical graduates compared with 8,116 doctors who joined the General Medical Council (GMC) register from overseas. Foreign doctors represented 53 per cent of the total. This had increased from the 6,258 registered overseas doctors in 2017 and it is the fist time they outnumbered the UK trainees since 2006.
Overall last year UK qualified doctors still made up sixty six per cent of doctors on the GMC register last year – up from sixty four per cent in 2009. The head of NHS has said it is inevitable that they would have to rely on foreign doctors and this would continue for the net ten years. Simon Stevens said moves to boost numbers should not be at the expense of the countries where they were trained.
Speaking at The Spectator Health Summit in central London, he said: ‘We need to train more health professionals in this country and that includes doctors.
‘We’ve got five new medical schools coming online as we speak, which will be a 25 per cent increase in undergraduate medical places. Arguably, that needs to be more.
‘In the meantime, we have always in the NHS benefited from some targeted international health professionals and I think over the next five or ten years, it’s inevitable that that’s going to continue to be the case.
‘But as we do that, we need to make sure that’s not a substitute for facing the need to plan training pipelines in this country and we need to do so in a way that is ethical so we are not denuding low-income countries of health professionals they clearly need.’
The NHS is in the midst of a recruitment crisis with more than 100,000 posts unfilled out of a workforce of 1.2million. Unions have said that staff are not dealing well with the heavy workloads, long hours, they are demanding for care and to sort out the issue of understaffing, causing record numbers to quit. In response NHS have launched a scheme to bring UK-qualified GPs back to the workforce by paying up to £18,500 in ‘relocation support’.