Staff crisis looms as doctors vanish

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The Independent Online
SENIOR doctors are warning of a crisis in medical manpower as disenchanted British-trained graduates are taking 'time out' to think about their futures. At the same time one in six junior-grade house officers in UK hospitals are now trainees from Europe.

The apparent disappearance of the British junior doctors is being felt in general practice training as well as in hospitals. Young doctors from Germany make up the largest group but graduates from Holland, Belgium and Spain are also training in the UK.

In one hospital in East Anglia the entire intake of 16 house officers - the first job for newly graduated doctors - appointed from

1 August is German and Dutch.

The Royal College of General Practitioners says that general practice has become unattractive for many junior doctors at the next stage of their medical education. GP trainers are facing increasing difficulty in filling training posts.

Few statistics exist and absentees are not counted, but the Department of Health has started a statistical exercise on general practice and is producing a medical manpower report. A spokesman said: 'There is conflicting evidence on wastage. We want to see that we have enough doctors.'

About 4,200 medical students graduate each year in Britain. This will rise to 4,470 by 1998. Latest figures available from the General Medical Council on doctors from abroad show it gave 'limited registration' to 628 graduates from Europe to train in the preregistration posts in 1993. Seven years ago the number was 86. In 1990 it was 364 and numbers have been climbing since.

In Britain doctors work for a year as house officers before they can be legally registered as fully fledged doctors. In Germany it is 18 months.

Turning away from stress, page 2