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Brexit impact must be central to workforce plan

We’ve urged workforce planners to seriously consider the impact of Brexit while developing a new strategy for the NHS.

Responding to the Facing the Facts, Shaping the Future strategy consultation, led by Health Education England, we have supported the draft plan’s principles, but believe more work is needed to deal with future risks.

Figures show nine of our ten largest specialties rely on non-UK qualified doctors. And, according to a survey conducted last year, many EEA doctors are thinking of leaving.

"We need to make sure that the UK is an attractive place for overseas doctors to work, both for new doctors and those already working here."

Charlie Massey

Chief Executive

Supply failing to keep up with demand

Our Chief Executive, Charlie Massey, believes the final version of the strategy should robustly address challenges to overseas recruitment.

He said: ‘Our 2017 The state of medical education and practice in the UK report showed how reliant the UK is on overseas doctors, and whilst growth in medical school places is welcome, it won’t fix the immediate workforce supply issues.

‘We need to make sure that the UK is an attractive place for overseas doctors to work, both for new doctors and those already working here.

‘Our supply of doctors has grown but not nearly enough to meet surging demand. Though we can’t be certain about the impact of Brexit, we know a sudden reduction in the number of EEA doctors coming to the UK would have a considerable impact.’

An overstretched health service

We noted concerns have been raised around the Tier 2 visa system and have called on the government to urgently address the issue.

Massey added: ‘It is frustrating that while one government department is working hard to recruit doctors into an overstretched health service, another is enforcing eligibility conditions which stifle those efforts.’

What are we calling for?

To help minimise the prospective impact of Brexit and address existing doctor shortages, legislative change are needed to achieve the workforce flexibilities the system needs, so we can:

  • make it easier for doctors to change specialties by recognising prior learning and transferability across areas
  • reform the way we register overseas doctors through the equivalence route
  • establish regulation for medical associate professions
  • achieve more effective joint working across the regulators.