People have leapt to the defence of foreign doctors working for the NHS after Jeremy Hunt and Theresa May’s latest comments on their plans for the future of the workforce.
The prime minister appeared to suggest foreign-born doctors will not be welcome in the United Kingdom beyond 2025, while the health secretary announced plans to train up to 1,500 more doctors a year in a bid to make NHS England “self-sufficient” on UK doctors.
The health service currently relies heavily on non-British doctors, who make up 25% of our medical workforce.
Many reacted by tweeting their gratitude and admiration towards foreign doctors for the work they have done for the NHS...
Some sarcastically pointed out the impact foreign doctors have had on our health system...
Some said that such comments made many people feel uncomfortable or even unwelcome...
Speaking to BBC Breakfast, the Prime Minister was asked: “Can you reassure those doctors, nurses, other staff working in the NHS from overseas they are welcome to stay here in that interim period?”
May responded: “Yes. There will be staff here from overseas in that interim period until the further number of British doctors are able to be trained and come on board in terms of being able to work in our hospitals.
“We will ensure the numbers are there. But I think it’s right that we say we want to see more British doctors in our health service.”
As well as training extra doctors, Hunt also announced plans to stop newly-trained medics from travelling abroad to work.
In order to ensure the taxpayer gets value from the £220,000 investment in each medical graduate, the government will for the first time require each one to work for at least four years in the NHS, in a similar arrangement to that for graduates whose education is sponsored by the armed forces.
According to the Independent, there may be a fine for those who move aboard before this time.
This also led to a huge backlash on social media...
In a blog on The Huffington Post UK, Dr Mark Porter, chair of the BMA council, said that today’s announcement “falls far short of what is needed to help address the real problems within the NHS”.
“I firmly believe that creating an NHS that is 100% self-sufficient, one that only trains home grown doctors and one that doesn’t take people from overseas and vice versa, is bad for medicine and bad for patient care,” he said.
He added: “The government must tackle the root causes of this workforce crisis and the reasons why so many UK-trained doctors are considering leaving the NHS rather than forcing doctors to stay in the health service. Demotivated, burnt-out doctors who don’t want to be in their jobs, will not be good for patients.”