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There’s a price to pay for devaluing the job

It’s bitterly cold outside, so I’ve sat down with a steaming mug of coffee and ploughed through the latest reaction to the amended Health and Social Care Bill. You get the feeling it’s all too little too late to derail it now.

Then I read up on the latest NHS pension developments – or lack of them to be more precise. It’s becoming clear that the government isn’t going to budge without concerted resistance from the profession.

And, finally, I wondered about how a news story I commissioned at the end of the week is developing. This year’s round of local Clinical Excellence Awards should have happened in December but has been delayed. The government has gone very quiet and time is running out – I bet it doesn’t happen.

It was at this point that I read a study in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine – it says that UK-trained doctors who emigrate to high-income countries tend to stay in their adopted country because of higher levels of job satisfaction and improved lifestyle.

I know I shouldn’t have, but I couldn’t help but laugh.

How many reasons do we want to give our juniors to leave? From the Modernising Medical Careers fiasco to EWTD to the current downgrading of pensions, the opportunities for a fulfilling career in secondary care have been compromised.

And then there’s the weather…

The study says that only one third of doctors intended to move permanently at the time they left the UK – however nine out of 10 in New Zealand, for example, subsequently intended to stay for the foreseeable future.

The serious point in all this is that while the UK is a net exporter of doctors to developed countries including Australia, Canada and the US, it remains dependent on inward migration of international medical graduates, most notably from the developing world.

Now that’s fine if all those international doctors return to their countries a few years later furnished with better training and more experience, but how many do? I’m not sure anyone knows.

Not only do we need ensure we are not stymieing the prospects of young doctors in the UK (are you listening Andrew?), but we must facilitate their repatriation – surely it cannot be beyond our wit to allow doctors to go abroad for a year and return to the same rotations and training process.

Good workforce retention is one thing, but we must avoid permanently draining impoverished health systems of their professional talent.

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One Response to “There’s a price to pay for devaluing the job”

  1. tim.man says:

    The report from the DDRB on clinical excellence awards was submitted to ministers in July and still has not been published. I made a FOI application in September and was told that reports intended for publication are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act. So the government can legally suppress any publically funded independent report for as long as it wants under this exception. This seems a democratic anomaly, and were I a member of a trade union I would ask them to challenge this legally.
    As I cant find a union to join that isnt rabidly set against any change to our beloved NHS I shall have to remain unrepresented and hope that Hospital Doctor can at least publish the facts.

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