Tuesday, 9 August, 2022
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Global recruitment vital to fill 52% UK doctor vacancies, say physicians

Foreign medics should be given a greater role in plugging Britain’s senior doctor shortage, the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has warned, as more than half of all posts went unfilled last year, and some 44% of current consultant physicians will reach retirement age in the next decade.

According to The Telegraph, 52% of posts for consultant physicians in England and Wales remained vacant last year, survey data collected by the RCP show, with 74% of jobs receiving no applicants at all.

The shortfall, the most significant since records began, has grown by almost 10% since before the pandemic, when 43% of posts went unfilled. Last year, the figure had climbed to 48% – while the current shortage of 52% is the highest on record. Senior physicians say authorities should consider international recruitment to “boost” the dwindling number of NHS doctors.

The shrinkage in numbers has resulted in many consultant physicians now dealing with excessive workloads, with just under half saying they worked excessive hours or have an excessive workload “almost always” or “most of the time”.

Retirements add to the issue

Compounding the problem, data suggest 44% of current consultant physicians will reach retirement age in the next 10 years, taking an average retirement age of 62–63 years old. This will further deplete the workforce, just when demand for care is increasing. As the population ages, this will probably bring a rise in multiple long-term health conditions, says the RCP.

Professor Andrew Elder, president of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, said the census highlighted the “need to have an effective recruitment and retention strategy in place” for doctors across each of the four nations of the UK.

Elder added that while increasing the number of medical school places and placements is “welcome and vital,” governments across Britain should also consider increasing international recruitment as a way to “boost” the number of doctors working for the NHS.

Sir Andrew Goddard, president of the RCP, said the “huge proportion” of unfilled consultant physician jobs should be a “wake-up call to the next Prime Minister”.

“Without a concerted effort to expand the number of medical school places, there is a real risk the NHS will be unable to deliver high-quality care to all those who need it, both now and in the years ahead,” he added.

The UK Government has announced the roll-out of a workforce strategy later in the year.

Mike McKirdy, president of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, has warned: “We simply don’t have enough doctors to meet the current and future demands on our health service”.

The RCP conducts an annual census of consultant physicians and higher specialty trainees across the UK, in collaboration with the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow. The 2021 consultant census ran between October and December 2021. It covered 18,646 people and the response rate was 23%. The full datatset of results will be available shortly.

 

The Telegraph article – Britain must recruit internationally to plug senior doctor shortage, warn physicians (Restricted access)

 

See more from MedicalBrief archives:

 

Foreign doctors threaten to quit the UK over ‘crippling’ fees

 

England’s GPs fed up – 33% may quit within five years, survey finds

 

Rural Britain struggles to recruit senior medical staff

 

Royal College says NHS is ‘clueless’ about manning levels

 

NHS doctor shortage puts young patients at risk

 

 

 

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