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Newly trained doctors to be tied to NHS for four years, announces Hunt

Doctors will be required to work in the NHS for at least four years upon qualification as part of a £100m plan to make the NHS 'self sufficient' for doctor recruitment by the end of the next Parliament.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt will unveil the new requirement alongside plans to expand medical school training places by a 'up to' a quarter by 2018, from a current cap set at just over 6,000 a year.

Speaking later today at the Conservative Party's annual conference, Mr Hunt will say that 'we need to prepare the NHS for the future' by 'doing something we have never done properly before: training enough doctors'.

He will say that this comes as currently a quarter of NHS doctors come from overseas.

The news comes as the Government is working towards recruiting 5,000 new GPs by 2020, but a Pulse analysis has suggested it will miss this target by more than half.

Mr Hunt will say his plans will make the NHS in England less reliant on doctors trained overseas and locums and ensure ‘all domestic students with the skills and capability’ to be a doctor have the chance to do so.

He will say: 'They do a fantastic job and we have been clear that we want EU nationals who are already here to be able to stay post-Brexit. But is it right to import doctors from poorer countries that need them whilst turning away bright home graduates desperate to study medicine?'

He will say that this is why he is announcing an expansion of training places, but that this will come with strings.

He will say: ‘From September 2018, we will train up to 1,500 more doctors every year, increasing the number of medical school places by up to a quarter. Of course it will take a number of years before those doctors qualify, but by the end of the next Parliament we will make the NHS self sufficient in doctors.

‘In order to ensure these reforms deliver for the taxpayer, the Government will also require for the first time that all those trained as doctors on the NHS will be required to work in the NHS for a minimum of four years after graduation.

'This mirrors the approach taken for those whose higher education was funded by the Armed Forces. It currently costs the taxpayer £220,000 to produce a graduate from medical school.'

The Government expects that expanding training will cost £100m by 2020/21 but that in the long run this will be offset by savings made from the locum bill which currently stands at £1.2bn a year.

Mr Hunt is also planning for international students in the UK to pay more towards their education and training.

Mr Hunt will says: 'Our medical schools have an outstanding international reputation, and these changes will in part be funded by charging international students for the totality of their training, including clinical placements which they do not currently pay for.'

It is not clear how the commitment to become self sufficient will be squared with NHS England’s commitment to recruit more GPs from international medical schools, revealed in NHS England board papers in July.

Pulse has reported as many as 600 European GPs are currently in the ‘pipeline’ to work in England, according to recruiters working with the NHS.

BMA chair Dr Mark Porter said the announcement 'falls far short of what is needed' and 'this initiative will not stop the NHS from needing to recruit overseas staff'.

He said: 'We know there are chronic staff shortages and rota gaps across the NHS, with major recruitment problems in areas such as emergency medicine and general practice.

'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.”

 

Readers' comments (85)

  • please please please. PULSE

    can you stop showing me that man's picture.

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  • Dear anonymous GP partner.
    I wrote, in my own name, in support of your profession.
    You slur on dentists is unfounded.
    The current requirement for most UK dental schools is a minimum of A*AA., including two science or maths subjects.
    When I trained in Ireland 35 years ago entry to dental school was at least as difficult as for medicine,, and it was well above grade Cs, even before recent grade inflation.
    Such childish remarks only help the DH to divide and conquer us all.
    We need to unite in our quest for justice for all healthcare professionals in the UK.
    Audoen Healy
    B Dent Sc, MGDS RCS Eng, FDS RCS Edin, FFGDP, DipImpDent RCS Eng.

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  • Committing for several years applies to people joining the armed forces so why shouldn't it apply to doctors? I had to do 6 years in the military and I cost less to train than a doctor does, so I have can't see what is the problem with 4 years? Are you so "precious"?

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  • Does he not realize that slavery was abolished a century ago? Unintelligible and incoherent - rather nonsensical ideas like this are going to discourage bright minds from becoming doctors. Unless.....and that is a BIG UNLESS, Mr Hunt is prepared to make medical education free in this country and then he may have some moral grounds to demand that young doctors dedicate some time to the NHS before going their own way.

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  • David Hogg

    Again Hunt is missing the point about the importance of retention. If we can only keep junior doctors in the UK because they're forced to, then we need to question how much society values having an enthused, motivated medical profession.

    Furthermore, I wonder if this will simply validate the decision of juniors to leave once they have 'done their NHS service'.

    It's time that we value NHS and care staff - across disciplines and pay grades - as a devalued and demotivated system will simply evaporate any remnants of goodwill. Given that goodwill (albeit dwindling) is a vital aspect of propping up a service under pressure, the NHS will just become more expensive, stretched and professional-lite than before.

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  • Practice manager: well founded points, but remind me, when in basic training as a recruit barely able to hold a dressing...ie providing NO service (I suspect you were probably a CMT, which is where most Armed Forces PMs start from), what did you pay for training? Nothing. What about when training after this? Some service, yes, but mostly training (and even funded to do degrees) but just like medical students who also provide a service on the wards - who pay for the honour. No one is precious.

    I would be delighted to rebrand medical students as apprentices who are paid during their clinical time, with rostered work rotas. Do that, then tie them to service. If they are providing free care while training (as many do) but pay £10000+ a year for the privilege, I fail to see what right the state has to tie them to anything.

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  • I don't think anyone "has" to do 6 years in the military; aren't press-gangs long gone?
    I'd like to see the breakdown of the £220k figure so often quoted. I'd also like the hours of study, ward-work while training, etc to be taken into account. The figure also needs to be put into context; how much to train lawyers, teachers or non-vocational graduates who enter banking or whatever (even politics). Surely the country benefits from having highly educated citizens. The NHS would certainly not benefit from forced employment regardless of suitability.

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  • Typical jeremy hunt - don't solve the problem of why newly trained docs are so keen to leave britain, just use the law to prevent it.

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  • Cobblers

    Why stop at medicine as someone has alluded to previously? The NHS is short of nurses, physios, midwives, I could go on. Post quali 4 years obligatory in the NHS. We know the NHS is dreadful to work for now but if most are compelled to work there what an awful environment!

    Why stop? Architects, Engineers, Teachers all compelled to work for the state.

    Eric Arthur Blair you visionary.

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  • Stick or carrot?
    Beat us up and make people stay for 4 years or change conditions to actually make people want to stay.
    Being forced into poor JD contracts and held to ransom for 4 years is certainly going to increase the emigration tide for people getting basic qualifications and experience, we may see a few FY2 and 3s float through GP in 8 or 9 years time but otherwise this is far from a solution!

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