Hospital Dr News

Progress made on doctor recruitment but more needs to be done

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 Workforce Report also finds that the NHS 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 to leave the medical register, the report says.

Charlie Massey, the GMC’s Chief Executive, said: “Our workforce is more diverse than ever, at a time when pressures on our health services make retaining doctors a huge challenge.

“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 GMC’s warning follows its publication, earlier this year, of the Fair to refer? report, that 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.

The Workforce 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.

Furthermore, there was a:

* A 6% rise in numbers on GP training programmes in the last year, a much sharper increase than in recent years.

* A 2% rise in doctors in psychiatry training, following years of stagnation and decline.

* Increases in radiology training (7%) and training for emergency medicine (4%).

Massey added: “Meeting future patient demand requires more expert generalists as well as specialists, and greater flexibility in training and job design. Increasing new doctors onto the register, reducing the loss of working hours due to pressures and retaining as many doctors as possible are all critical challenges.”

BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: “While it is encouraging that more doctors are entering training, the numbers are still nowhere near enough to meet patient need.”

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