The Scottish Government has warned that efforts to recruit more NHS doctors will be hampered by plans in England to end the reliance on overseas medics.
Scottish health secretary Shona Robinson said Prime Minister Teresa May’s plans for a 25% increase in training places for medical students in England to boost the number of home-grown doctors were ‘irresponsible’.
The Government’s plans also involve foreign doctors working in the NHS only for an ‘interim period’ until more UK-trained doctors could take up those positions.
But Ms Robison said: ‘Medical professionals from outside this country have played a vital and valued part in our NHS for decades, and continue to do so, and their contribution should not be dismissed in this way.’
‘In Scotland we want the best and the brightest from around the world to stay, build their careers here and contribute to the economy and our society.’
She added that investing in the Scottish workforce was also very important and they had also announced additional medical student places.
The BMA welcomed the Scottish Government’s insistence that overseas doctors will continue to play an essential role in the NHS.
Chair of BMA Scotland Dr Peter Bennie said the idea that doctors from outside the UK are not needed is ‘simply nonsense’ and is an attitude that risks making the challenges facing the NHS significantly worse
‘In the midst of problems recruiting and retaining doctors to work in Scotland’s NHS, the last thing we need are for our valued colleagues from outside the UK to no longer feel they are welcome here.
‘Without their contribution on our behalf, the NHS would face severe consequences and patient care would undoubtedly suffer.’
Primary care workforce figures for Scotland suggest the country is losing GPs at the rate of about one a week, with training places going unfilled.
Speaking at a health committee hearing last week, the BMA and RCGP said the staff shortages had reached a crisis point.
The RCGP has estimated that Scotland requires 830 whole time equivalent GPs to return to the level seen in 2009.
More training places are being funded along with ‘golden hellos’ of £20,000 for some hard to fill positions, although these have not been as successful as hoped in some regions.