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Growth in NHS recruits from overseas prompts concern about over-reliance

Surgical Team Walking Down Hospital Corridor - Stock PhotoGetty Images

The NHS in England is more and more reliant on medical doctors and nurses recruited from outdoors the UK and EU, evaluation has discovered.

Some 34% of medical doctors becoming a member of the well being service final 12 months got here from abroad, an increase from 18% in 2014.

The authorities stated abroad recruitment had all the time been a part of its technique.

But unions have warned it’s an unsustainable approach of recruiting within the long-term.

A complete of 39,558 domestically skilled medical doctors and nurses joined the NHS in 2020-21, which is simply over 3,200 greater than in 2014-15.

But UK medics have been occupying a reducing proportion of the general 1.35 million workforce throughout that interval.

The BBC’s Shared Data Unit analysed workforce knowledge offered by NHS Digital from 2015 to 2021.

That evaluation discovered:

  • The share of UK medical doctors becoming a member of the well being service had fallen from 69% in 2015 to 58% final 12 months. Over the identical interval, the share of recent UK nurses fell from 74% to 61%
  • The share of medical doctors recruited from outdoors of the UK and the EU rose from 18% to 34% whereas the share of nurses rose from 7% to 34%

Patricia Marquis, Royal College of Nursing (RCN) director for England, stated ministers should do extra to scale back the “disproportionate reliance” on worldwide recruits.

The authorities is funding an extra 1,500 undergraduate medical college locations every year for home college students in England – a 25% enhance over three years.

However, final week a report by MPs concluded the big variety of unfilled NHS job vacancies, about 110,000 in complete, was posing a severe danger to affected person security.

Danny Mortimer, chief government of NHS Employers, stated it was “high time for the government to commit to a fully-funded, long-term workforce plan for the NHS” to deal with “chronic workforce shortages”.

A Head And Shoulders Photograph Of Sumaira Babar

Sumaira Babar

Consultant radiologist Sumaira Babar is simply one of many rising proportion to affix the NHS from abroad. She moved from Karachi in Pakistan to Huddersfield along with her younger household final October.

“I thought why not, it’ll be an adventure, it’d be something different,” she stated. “It’ll be a change from what I’m used to. It will be good for the children as well. They’ll be exposed to a new culture, new environment, you know, they learn how the world works.”

Yet the British Medical Association stated that whereas the NHS is recruiting extra individuals from overseas it additionally confronted a problem retaining them. It cited “punishing workloads” and the price of visas.

The share of medical doctors leaving the NHS from non-UK and EU nations additionally rose from 15% in 2015 to 25% in 2021.

Dr Amit Kochhar, its worldwide committee deputy chair, stated medical graduates have been charged as much as £2,400 to use for indefinite depart to stay, with every of their dependents dealing with the identical charge.

From Left To Right: Dr Hajra Usmani, Her Parents And Her Husband Julian

Dr Hajra Usmani

That was an issue for Dr Hajra Usmani, who labored within the NHS for 18 years however determined to depart her submit as an A&E advisor in Frimley, Surrey, final 12 months.

The mother-of-two, aged 46, who’s now working in an identical function in Medina, Saudi Arabia, stated she was deterred by visa prices to carry her aged dad and mom to England.

“My mum has been diagnosed with severe dementia and my dad has cognitive impairment,” she stated. “I can’t depart them on their very own.

“They would have needed to pay a surcharge to the NHS, however I ended the applying final September as a result of it was coming as much as £6,000 for the visas plus the authorized charges earlier than the Home Office would even contemplate the functions.

“We’re now in Saudi Arabia where they have visa extensions for dependents.”

Nationality Of Doctors Joining England'S Nhs. The Brexit Vote Was In June 2016. A Line Chart Showing A Breakdown Of Doctors By Nationality Joining The Nhs In England In The Calendar Years 2015-21 Data Exclude Those Staff Whose Nationality Was Recorded As Unknown.

Dr Usmani stated she knew of many fellow medical doctors taking an identical path.

“Most of my colleagues here are ex-UK trained NHS staff. This is an exodus. The NHS is crumbling at the moment.”

EU workers decline

From throughout the EU, the share of recruits becoming a member of England’s NHS every year fell from 11% in 2015 to six% final 12 months.

Alexia Tsigka Sat Next To A Microscope And A Laptop

Alexia Tsigka

Dr Alexia Tsigka, a advisor histopathologist at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals, stated her specialism “is a shortage occupation… according to the Royal College of Pathologists only 3% of UK departments are fully staffed.

“And I have never seen anybody European coming after Brexit, not less than in our division. Doctors which have utilized to our division largely come from India, Egypt and a few from Sri Lanka.

“Post-Covid, we’ve also lost quite a few colleagues. We’re facing an exodus.”

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) stated the proportion decline in EU nationals becoming a member of the well being service might have been right down to extra rigorous language exams launched by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

A spokesman stated the federal government supported the exams as “an important patient safety measure”.

Another doable issue was the financial restoration of southern European nations, as many nurses had come to the UK when work at home was restricted.

International recruitment has “long been part of the NHS workforce strategy”, the spokesman added, with round one-in-seven workers reporting as non-British.

The Nationalities Of Nurses Joining England'S Nhs. The Brexit Vote Was In June 2016. A Line Chart Showing A Percentage Breakdown By Nationality Of The Nurses Joining England'S Nhs In Each Of The Calendar Years 2015-2021 Inclusive Data Exclude Those Staff Whose Nationality Was Recorded As Unknown.

The division spokesman rejected the declare that “immigration restrictions were a key reason for healthcare staff leaving the UK”.

There was “no obligation on healthcare professionals to apply for [Indefinite Leave to Remain],” he stated, “and they could, under the new points-based system, remain in the UK on a health and care visa which was a key promise of the government’s manifesto”.


More about this story

The Shared Data Unit makes knowledge journalism obtainable to information organisations throughout the media trade, as a part of a partnership between the BBC and the News Media Association.

For extra data on methodology, click on right here. For the total dataset, click on right here. Read extra in regards to the Local News Partnerships right here.

Additional knowledge evaluation by Molly Wilshaw


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