NHS failing to entice top doctors from abroad

A Government drive to bolster the NHS by recruiting senior doctors from overseas is in disarray after foreign specialists turned up their noses at the jobs on offer.

Two schemes aimed at recruiting 1,000 foreign specialists to help run the service have so far lured just 45 doctors into the NHS. But applications from foreign junior doctors to take the registration exam, known as the PLAB test, which allows them to practice in Britain have risen 75 per cent in a year, from 4,600 to over 8,000.

Professor Sir Graeme Catto, president of the General Medical Council which monitors standards of overseas doctors and runs the PLAB test, said: "We have had a few hundred applications from senior doctors and we have been inundated with applications from the training grades. Word has got out that the UK is desperate for doctors and anyone can get a job. They are just the sort we don't want."

Sir Graeme said the US was short of doctors and Canada was about to start recruiting abroad. Sweden, the Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand are also said to be short of doctors. "We are going to have the ludicrous situation where we are all setting up our stall in the back streets of Calcutta," he said.

The shortage of home-grown doctors was highlighted yesterday in the annual census of consultants carried out by the Royal College of Physicians, which showed a sharp slowing in the growth rate from 6.1 per cent a year between 1993 and 2000 to 3.2 per cent in 2000-01. Cuts in working hours under the European working time directive will put further pressure on the service and more than a third of consultants plan to retire in the next 10 years.

Dr Rodney Burnham, the college's director of medical workforce, said: "The problems underlying consultant staffing are causing great problems and are likely to do so for many years. They cannot be solved merely by the injection of new funds."

Last year the Department of Health announced that it had hired Sir Magdi Yacoub, the globe-trotting heart surgeon, to spearhead its overseas recruitment campaign.

Sir Magdi headed an international fellowship scheme intended to attract senior doctors to the UK, with a target of 450 specialists in post in three years. But the scheme has so far brought in 26 senior doctors. None of them is a heart and lung surgeon like Sir Magdi, which was one of the specialties targeted.

Many applicants were not of the quality needed and others turned jobs down once they saw the terms and conditions. A health department source said: "We had difficulty closing the deals."

A separate global scheme which involved an advertising campaign in 11 Western countries has also yielded disappointing results.

About 5,000 doctors expressed interest in working for the NHS, and 665 firm applications were made, but only 19 doctors are in post, all from Spain and Germany.

According to Hospital Doctor, which obtained the figures, only the Royal College of Psychiatrists judged the recruitment exercise a success. Seventeen of the 26 specialists recruited from overseas were psychiatrists.Dan Ash, president of the Royal College of Radiologists, said: "Thousands expressed an interest, hundreds applied, tens were interviewed and single numbers were appointed."

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Joe Cocker performing on the Stravinski hall stage during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002
musicHe 'turned my song into an anthem', says former Beatle
News
Clarke Carlisle
sport
Sport
footballStoke City vs Chelsea match report
Arts and Entertainment
theatreThe US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
News
Coca-Cola has become one of the largest companies in the world to push staff towards switching off their voicemails, in a move intended to streamline operations and boost productivity
peopleCoca-Cola staff urged to switch it off to boost productivity
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Austen Lloyd: Regulatory / Compliance / Exeter

    Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Exeter - An excellent opportunity for a Solici...

    Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - 12 Month Fixed Term - Shrewsbury

    £17000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Helpdesk Support Technician - 12 ...

    The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Planner

    £28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...

    The Jenrick Group: World Wide PLC Service Engineer

    £30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...

    Day In a Page

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'