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Doctors who trained abroad help drive up overall numbers in uk

There is a problem with retaining doctors
Tess de la Mare (PA)

MORE international than UK-trained doctors joined the medical register for the first time ever this year, according to data released last week.

Research by the General Medical Council (GMC) found that doctors who trained abroad helped to push the numbers of those licensed to practice in the UK to more than a quarter of a million.

In its workforce report, which is based on mid-year figures between 2012 and 2019, the GMC said abolishing the cap on the number of doctors recruited from outside the EU was one of the biggest driving factors.

But it warned that UK healthcare's reliance on international doctors exacerbated the problem of retention, as they are more likely to leave after a shorter period of practising.

The report found that many gave up their UK licences to return to their country of origin, but that workload and lack of support in the workplace was also an element.

Many said they felt like "outsiders" and felt they did not have the support of their peers.

"It's crucial that this valuable cohort of doctors are supported in their new roles and that they are working within effective clinical governance systems," the report said.

The GMC said more needed to be done to help foreign doctors access training and career progression opportunities.

Despite the Brexit vote, the GMC has not yet seen a decline in numbers of doctors from the EU joining the register. More doctors from eastern and central Europe and the Baltic countries join the UK medical register than from other parts of the EU.

One of the biggest risks to retention for doctors of all backgrounds was unmanageable workloads and having to work beyond their hours in order to keep up.

Half of a sample of 3,500 GPs said they worked beyond their weekly hours and felt they could not cope on a weekly basis compared to 26 per cent of doctors overall.

GPs reducing their hours in a bid to cope is also putting pressure on the NHS, the research found, with around a third having reduced their hours in the last 12 months.

Female doctors now make up 48 per cent of the workforce, up 20 per cent from 2012.

Tess de la Mare (PA)

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