Plans to train more British doctors and nurses would slash the need for foreign staff in the NHS, Rishi Sunak says
- Rishi Sunak said over 300,000 NHS workers will be employed in coming years
Plans to train more British doctors and nurses would slash the need for foreign staff in the NHS, the Prime Minister said yesterday.
Britain had to become more self-reliant as international competition for health workers increased, Rishi Sunak added.
Under the NHS workforce plan he unveiled yesterday, more than 300,000 extra nurses, doctors and other health workers are expected to be employed in the health service in England over the coming years.
Mr Sunak said a doubling of medical school places would help ensure many more homegrown staff in the NHS. The proportion of foreign workers in the health service would fall from 25 per cent today to just 10 per cent over the next 15 years, he added.
Figures buried in the report reveal 57 per cent of nurses recruited last year were trained overseas, along with around half of all new doctors.
Plans to train more British doctors and nurses would slash the need for foreign staff in the NHS, Rishi Sunak said yesterday
The plan has pledged to increase the NHS permanent workforce by almost a million by 2036/2037. It expects to see a rise from 1.4million to between 2.2 and 2.3million
Mr Sunak said boosting the supply of medical staff could also slash £10billion from the bill for agency workers.
It came as officials warned that, without action, there could be 360,000 vacancies in the health service by 2037.
But Mr Sunak warned that given the strain on the public finances, the £2.4billion cost of the new workforce plan could result in cuts elsewhere in Government.
He told a Downing Street Press conference that governments from all parties had ‘ducked’ the workforce challenge for decades and that ‘overcoming this won’t be quick or easy’.
He added: ‘It’s only possible because of the difficult decisions we’re taking elsewhere to cut the debt and by prioritising the NHS there will be other things that we can’t afford.’
Mr Sunak said the main themes of the plan were ‘train, retain and reform’.
He declined to say whether the Government was willing to find the money needed to fund improved pay to end strikes by doctors.
‘Everyone likes to be paid more but I think everyone also recognises the economic context we’re in,’ he said. ‘Our job in government is to balance those things. That means bringing down inflation.’
NHS boss Amanda Pritchard said parts of the plan would benefit patients quickly but added: ‘This is not an overnight magic wand.’
The number of medical school training places will be doubled by 2031/32, taking the total number of places to 15,000. GP training places in England for junior doctors will also increase by 50 per cent to 6,000, the NHS’s workforce plan has pledged
Officials have asked the General Medical Council (GMC) and medical schools to consult on the introduction of four-year medical degrees, which are five years at present, and medical internships, allowing students to start work six months earlier. Some medical staff could also start work as apprentices.
Mr Sunak said more staff in new roles would allow senior staff to focus on the most complex cases. Nursing associates, for example, will bridge the gap between healthcare assistants and nurses.
Labour’s health spokesman Wes Streeting said: ‘They should have done this a decade ago, then the NHS would have enough staff today.’
NHS radiographers carrying out jobs including X-rays and CT scans could join medics in walking out next month, the Society of Radiographers said as it confirmed a successful pay strike ballot yesterday.
Up to 43 trusts across England may be hit by the industrial action, opening the door to a potential joint strike with junior doctors walking out for five days from July 13 to 18.