NHS Recruited 3,000 Doctors From Overseas Last Year

Senior Doctor Says Workforce Planning Is A 'Shambles'


Andrew Robinson, Press Officer | 0113 218 6463
The NHS has recruited as many as 3,000 doctors who trained overseas in the past year in a desperate attempt to plug staff shortages, an investigation by the Guardian has revealed.

Doctors have been hired from countries including India, Poland, Australia, Greece, Iraq, Syria and Sudan at around one in five trusts in England.

University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in Southampton recruited 113 overseas doctors in the last year. Many are being hired to carry out specialist work, such as radiology, A&E and ophthalmology.

Dr David Rosser, Medical Director of University Hospitals Birmingham, said the NHS simply doesn't have the number of doctors it requires.

"The shortage is real. We aren’t training enough doctors in this country, and so we are dependent on foreign-trained doctors," he told the newspaper. 

"Doctors in more and more branches of medicine report shortages, especially in specialities such as A&E, where it’s tough work."

He went on to describe NHS central workforce planning as a "shambles" and said the tightening of visa rules has made it harder for many junior doctors to stay in the UK long enough to complete their training, often driving them to other countries.

Expert Opinion

The number of foreign medical professionals being used to fill vacancies in the UK is concerning and it obviously indicates that recruitment is an issue within the NHS. While it is important positions are filled, it is crucial foreign doctors being recruited are capable of providing the highest standards of care, which includes being correctly trained and being able to communicate with patients.

“Patient safety should always be the number one priority of the NHS and we hope any foreign doctors being employed in the UK are able to treat their patients to the best of their ability and meet the standards expected of them.”
Julie Lewis, Partner