One in three doctors and nurses who joined the NHS in England last year were recruited from abroad, raising concerns that the health service is becoming more reliant on foreign recruitment.
Figures from NHS Digital show that the proportion of healthcare staff recruited from abroad will almost double between 2014 and 2021, according to a BBC analysis.
A number of unions said it was a sign the NHS was leaning on foreign recruitment to tackle staffing problems as they issued fresh calls for the government to tackle the workforce crisis.
That’s nearly double the proportion of overseas recruits in 2015, when the figure was just 18 percent. The government has downplayed the increase, saying foreign recruitment has always been part of its workforce strategy.
In total, 39,558 trained UK doctors and nurses joined the NHS in 2020-21, almost 3,200 more than in 2014-15.
However, British-trained health professionals are shrinking rapidly as a proportion of new entrants to NHS England’s million-strong workforce.
The analysis found that just 58% of doctors who joined the NHS last year trained in the UK, down from 69% in 2015.
For nurses, the proportion of UK trainees last year was 61%, down from 74% in 2015.
Over the same period, the percentage of new entrants qualifying from outside the UK and EU has almost doubled and in some cases quadrupled.
These charts, based on NHS workforce data, show the proportion of doctors and nurses joining the NHS in England based on where they originally trained. In both occupations, the number of UK-trained people has decreased over time (red lines) while the number of non-EU trained professionals has increased (yellow lines). The proportion of EU professionals joining the NHS has fallen over time, with a steep dive in the years since the 2016 Brexit vote.
India and Pakistan are the two largest non-UK countries with doctors currently registered to work in the UK with around 30,000 and 17,000 trained respectively. It is followed by Nigeria, Egypt, Ireland, South Africa, Greece, Sudan, Italy and Romania.
Nurses recruited from overseas made up just 7 percent of the workforce in 2015, up from 34 percent the previous year.
Most of the nurses who registered to work in the UK in the last five years, but did not actually train here, are from countries such as India, the Philippines and Nigeria.
Workforce problems have plagued the NHS for years, as highlighted in a report led by a Deming MP last week. It concluded that the health service in England is currently short of 12,000 hospital doctors and more than 50,000 nurses and midwives.
The report, by the Health and Social Care Committee and chaired by former health secretary Jeremy Hunt, also predicted that England’s health system would need 475,000 extra jobs by early next decade.
Health unions have for some time been concerned about the UK’s over-reliance on overseas recruitment, both because the UK may not always be able to attract these workers and because we may send them to developing countries. Take it away from the health system.
Responding to the BBC analysis, Patricia Marquis, England director for the Union Royal College of Nursing, said ministers must do more to reduce the ‘disproportionate reliance’ on internationally trained recruits.
This graph shows the country of training for all newly registered nurses and midwives in the UK over the last five years. Unsurprisingly, British-trained nurses make up the majority with around 120,000 joiners. India (about 21,000), the Philippines (about 18,000) and Nigeria (about 5,000) are the largest suppliers of overseas-trained nurses and midwives registered to work in the UK.
Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said it was time for the Government to commit to a ‘fully funded, long-term workforce plan for the NHS’ to tackle ‘chronic workforce shortages’. can go.
The British Medical Association (BMA) has warned that UK-trained medics are increasingly moving to countries where salaries are higher and immigration fees are lower.
A health and care worker visa to work in the UK costs up to £479 per person every three years, with the worker’s partner and children also paying this amount.
There are also additional fees, such as compulsory membership of UK health regulators, that these professionals must pay.
BMA officials have said medical graduates are charged up to £2,400 to apply for indefinite leave, with each of their dependents facing the same fee.
BBC analysis found that the number of doctors leaving the NHS originally trained abroad rose to 25% in 2021, up from 15% in 2015.
While the number of NHS recruits from non-EU countries has increased, the number from the European bloc has fallen.
Just 6 per cent of those joining the NHS last year were from the EU, down from 11 per cent in 2015.
Some have blamed Brexit cuts for making it harder for EU-trained professionals to come and work in the UK.
But the Department of Health and Social Care instead suggested that the introduction of stricter language tests by the UK’s nursing regulator could be behind the decline.
These increased language tests have not stopped nurses from elsewhere in the world coming to the UK, with the number of overseas-trained nurses and midwives rising to 113,579, according to NMC figures, up 23.1 on the previous year. The percentage increased.
At the same time, the number of trained EU registrants fell to 28,864 last year, from 35,115 in 2017/18.
Internationally trained nurses and doctors have to sit an English language test before being allowed to practice in the UK, if their qualification was not taught in English.
Nurses also have to sit a qualifying exam to register in the UK, while doctors may go through a similar process depending on where they trained and their specialty.
NHS staff shortages have been blamed by experts for soaring A&E waiting times this summer which has seen some Britons forced to wait hours in ambulances as doctors struggle to find extra beds. are doing
England’s GP crisis deepens: staff numbers hit record low
The number of qualified GPs has fallen to its lowest level on record and only one in four family doctors work full-time, according to official figures which highlight a ‘devastating’ crisis in general practice.
There were around 27,500 fully qualified, permanent family doctors working for NHS England last month, down from around 28,000 in June 2021 and 1,500 less than five years ago.
The figures come despite Boris Johnson’s 2019 manifesto pledge to increase GP numbers to 6,000 by 2024. Ministers have since admitted that the target will not be met.
Health bosses have warned a shortage of the disabled workforce, combined with unprecedented demand for GPs after the pandemic, has created an untenable situation that threatens patient safety.
Meanwhile, just 23 per cent of permanent NHS GPs work 37.5 hours a week or more, down by a third in five years. Research shows that most family doctors now only work three days a week or less.
Patients have struggled to secure an appointment or see a doctor face-to-face, which has seen some desperate people resort to A&E visits.
Separate figures suggest that other NHS staff are increasingly burdened as GPs cope with staffing problems.
Data for June shows that less than half of all appointments were performed by qualified doctors. The rest were seen by other staff, including nurses, physiotherapists and even acupuncturists.
Almost one in five appointments nationally last month lasted five minutes or less, with campaign groups saying GP surgeries had turned to ‘revolving door’ practices to get more patients. Can be brought in and out quickly to get through the workload.
NHS best practice aims for appointments to last no less than 10 minutes, while unions have called for this to be extended to 15 minutes to ensure ‘care of care’.
Meanwhile, about 65 percent of appointments were made face-to-face during the month, down from about 80 percent before the pandemic.