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RCP briefing for Westminster Hall debate on visas for international doctors

The RCP has issued a briefing ahead of the Westminster Hall debate on visas for international doctors tabled by Matt Warman MP. 

There is a significant staffing crisis facing the NHS, with staffing shortages presenting the biggest barrier to meeting demand for care and bring down NHS waiting lists.

The RCP’s latest census found that more than half (52%) of advertised physician posts in England and Wales went unfilled in 2021 – the highest rate of unfilled posts since records began.

Without significant investment in training more people in the UK, it is clear that overseas recruitment is a crucial part of the solution in the short and medium term. Our recent policy paper: RCP view on the NHS workforce: short-and medium-term solutions recommended that health and care staff from overseas who wish to come to the UK and work in the NHS have the opportunities and support to do so.

The RCP firmly believes the NHS must be open and welcoming to international colleagues. But we should be aiming to train more doctors in the UK – not least because of the ethical concerns of recruiting professionals from other countries which may be experiencing their own workforce shortages. We must have a long-term plan for increasing staffing numbers, including expanding medical school places to put the NHS workforce back on a sustainable footing.

The RCP is calling on the Government deliver the long-term workforce plan commissioned earlier this year by the end of 2022 as planned. The workforce strategy must:

  • be based as far as possible on what we know about actual current and predicted future supply and demand, including the impact of increased flexible working
  • include projections of the numbers of staff needed to keep pace with demand
  • include a range of short-, medium- and long-term solutions including an expansion in medical school places to increase recruitment and improve retention 
  • commit to a review and refresh at least once within the lifetime of the existing strategy.