This week, Dido Harding vowed to end England’s reliance on foreign doctors and nurses if she were to be made the next head of the NHS. In this blog, Remedium founder David Green explains why we believe that these clinicians are vital NHS resources who are often unappreciated and undervalued.
At Remedium, we’re proud to have supported more than 2,000 doctors from over 40 countries around the world to come and make the move to our NHS. We believe passionately in the amazing work that these overseas doctors do for our country and we think that our international NHS workforce should be celebrated, rather than disparaged.
The problem: The NHS doctor shortage
The NHS doctor shortage is a key factor contributing to the UK’s healthcare staffing crisis. Currently, there are around 12,000 permanent doctor jobs going unfilled across the country, and, due to the aging UK population and the rising disease burden, this number is expected to increase further.
Even if the British government were to begin putting enough doctors through medical school today, it would take around ten years for those doctors to be qualified enough to plug this candidate shortage.
Moreover, it is seen as a rite of passage for junior doctors around the world to gain international experience and many British-trained clinicians will spend time working in countries such as Australia or New Zealand. So, it is unlikely that all these new doctors would stay in the British system throughout their tenure.
In addition, according to RCEM, the current shortage of doctors in emergency medicine stands at 2,500 at consultant level alone. This emergency medicine shortage clearly illustrates that we must recruit doctors from overseas right now if we are to alleviate the excessive work burden that is currently plaguing our NHS workforce. Moving clinicians who are already working in the British system from one UK hospital to another does nothing to address this NHS doctor shortage.
The solution: Talented doctors from overseas
Rather than being the second-choice option, we believe that international doctors bring with them a wealth and depth of experience that cannot be rivalled. For instance, we helped to find a UK home for an Emergency Medicine doctor from Afghanistan who had previously worked in a war hospital tending to the wounds of British and American soldiers who had been hit by IEDs. His incredible tenacity, along with his ability to remain calm in a highly pressurised environment, is vital to his incredible work in one of England’s busy A&E departments.
In the past, we have also had the privilege to work with refugee doctors who have had to flee from their homes at very short notice in order to save their own lives and that of their families. These doctors are now thriving in the UK system – contributing to our society and our communities despite the overwhelming troubles they have had to face. We should celebrate these brave men and women, who left behind so much and now save British lives on a daily basis.
Of course, we must be careful not to take doctors from countries who desperately need them. That’s why we signed up for the NHS Code of Practice for international recruitment, which bans doctor recruitment from countries where it is deemed to be unethical. Where this is not the case, however, many doctors will return to their home countries with new skills gained from working in one of the best healthcare systems in the world. They use this new found knowledge to help support their local patients and communities.
The NHS doctor shortage: How we can help
At Remedium, we are on a mission to solve the UK healthcare staffing crisis. We believe passionately that patient care and patient outcomes must be at the heart of NHS recruitment policy – that’s why we advocate for the increased recruitment of permanent doctors, as opposed to expensive locum clinicians. As experts on the subject of the growing healthcare staffing gap, we cannot forecast any scenario in which the NHS could continue to operate without the hard work and dedication of its international workforce.
Additionally, we strongly feel that any policy which pertains to the origins of NHS staff is unhelpful, ill-considered and unjust. Instead, we must celebrate the diversity of thought and perspective that this talented international workforce brings to our healthcare system. We should thank them for their service and for helping us to curb the NHS doctor shortage.
If you also believe that our diverse, international workforce makes us stronger, get in touch today to see how we can help your trust to address the NHS doctor shortage by supporting you to recruit talented clinicians from around the world.