Hospital Dr News

Doctors recruited into problem specialties but NHS still reliant on overseas doctors

More doctors entered GP training and other shortage-hit specialties this year but support must be stepped up to continue this trend, a GMC report finds.

The regulator’s report also highlights that UK healthcare is more reliant than ever on overseas doctors.

In 2019, for the first time, more non-UK graduates joined the medical register than British-trained doctors.

However, retention of all doctors remains a challenge.

Workload pressures and workplace cultures that don’t always offer enough support are among the factors that cause significant numbers of doctors – from the UK as well as overseas – to leave the medical register.

Earlier this year a GMC report – Fair to refer? – highlighted lack of support, poor feedback by managers and poor inductions as reasons for disproportionate referrals of black, Asian and minority ethnic doctors to the regulator for fitness to practise concerns.

Charlie Massey, the GMC’s Chief Executive, said: “It is vital that the diversity we see across our hospitals and surgeries is embraced by those in leadership roles. Medicine is a highly mobile profession, and the UK has traditionally done well attracting doctors from abroad. But doctors must get the support they need if they are likely to stay here long term.

“In the past that has not always been the case.”

The report reveals that the number of doctors licensed to practice medicine in the UK rose above a quarter of a million for the first time in 2019.

However, increasing numbers of doctors are choosing to reduce the hours they work in response to workload pressures and changing career expectations.

Encouragingly, there are also signs of growth in those entering training programmes to become GPs and some shortage-hit specialties, as well as a sharp rise in overseas doctors.

Among data highlighted in the report are:

  • A 6% rise in numbers on GP training programmes in the last year.
  • A 2% rise in doctors in psychiatry training, following years of decline.
  • Increases in radiology training (7%) and training for emergency medicine (4%).
  • The number of non-UK or EEA doctors joining the medical register each year doubling between 2017 and 2019.

Read the full report.

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