Our Science Editor Alice Coulton is a student doctor; she is currently studying medicine at the University of Cambridge. BBC News was keen to get her views on the Health Secretary’s new plans to increase places and restrict the exit of qualified doctors.
The Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt addressed the 2016 Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham today (Tuesday 4th October 2016) with his new plans that aim to reduce the number of foreign doctors working in the NHS. Hunt plans to increase the number of student doctor places available by 25 percent, with the ultimate goal of making the service “self-sufficient”.
The costs associated
Currently, foreign doctors make up around 25% of the medical workforce within the NHS. Furthermore, hospitals are spending £3.3bn every year on locums and agency staff. This is something that the Health Secretary has stated he is keen to reduce.
The plan is expected to initially cost over £100m by 2020, but there are plans to offset this by making medical students from abroad pay for their clinical placements. This effectively amounts to a rise in fees for all foreign medical students. However, this has been defended by the Department of Health in an article in The Guardian. They state that the current fee of £9,000 a year is “far lower than the fees for other prestigious international medical schools,”
Graduates locked in
In addition, Jeremy Hunt also unveiled plans to force medical graduates to work for the NHS for a minimum of fours years, before they are allowed to leave. The idea behind this move is to recoup the £220,000 investment that it costs to train each student doctor. Some students see this as a reasonable request considering the vast amount of money spent on their training. Whereas others feel that Hunt should be addressing the reason that people are leaving, rather than just forcing them to remain against their will.