The General Medical Council (GMC) workforce report 2019 shows that the UK healthcare system has become more reliant than ever on overseas doctors. For the first time, the number of non-UK graduates joining the medical register has exceeded the number of doctors from UK colleges. The number of non-UK doctors joining the medical register each year doubled between 2017 and 2019.
The report also shows an increase in the number of doctors choosing specialties that have been particularly hit by workforce shortages. There was a 6 per cent rise in numbers on GP training programmes in the last year, a much sharper increase than in recent years. Following “years of stagnation and decline”, the GMC reports a 2 per cent rise in doctors entering psychiatry training. Radiology and emergency medicine have also seen increases, with the number applying for training programmes in these specialties increasing by 7 per cent and 4 per cent, respectively.
Commenting on the report, GMC Chief Executive Charlie Massey said: “It is vital that the diversity we see across our hospitals and surgeries is embraced by those in leadership roles. Medicine is a highly mobile profession, and the UK has traditionally done well attracting doctors from abroad. But doctors must get the support they need if they are likely to stay here long term. In the past that has not always been the case.
“Compassionate leadership and improved workplace cultures can contribute to improved retention of doctors. That also helps doctors’ wellbeing, which in turn benefits patients. It will help make sure we have the workforce we need now and in the years ahead,” he cautioned.
The comments follow the publication of the GMC report ‘Fair to Refer?’ earlier this year which identified a lack of support, poor feedback, and poor inductions as reasons for disproportionate referrals of black, Asian and minority ethnic doctors to the regulator for fitness to practise concerns.