Home » News » A step closer to doctors on the shortage occupation list

A step closer to doctors on the shortage occupation list

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has published its review of the shortage occupation list (SOL). The SOL is the list of occupations which are recognised by the government as not having enough resident workers to fill vacancies. The RCP along with others has been making the case that the MAC should consider adding doctors to the list.

In January 2019, the RCP alongside the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow submitted joint evidence to the MAC calling for the inclusion of all physician posts across the NHS on the list to ensure that vacant posts can be filled as the UK leaves the EU.

In addition, the RCP asked them to:

  • Recognise the case that Acute Internal Medicine and Geriatric Medicine physician posts should be added to the SOL in their own right based on the significant evidence that these specialties are in national shortage.
  • Consider the role it could play in making a recommendation that junior doctor foundation year 1 and year 2 posts are added to the SOL.
  • Consider the skilled roles undertaken across the health and social care professions that are not currently included on the SOL and are unlikely to meet the MACs recommendation for the skilled workers salary threshold of £30,000.

On 29 May, the latest review of the SOL recommended that ‘medical practitioners’ should be added to the list.

The definition states:

Medical practitioners diagnose mental and physical injuries, disorders and diseases, prescribe and give treatment, recommend preventative action, and conduct medical education and research activities. They may specialise in particular areas of modern medicine or work in general practice and, where necessary, refer the patient to a specialist.

This recommendation, therefore, encompasses the majority of our recommendations which is a significant shift by the MAC and recognises the workforce shortages that we feel every day. If adopted by Home Office this will help with international recruitment. We continue to remain concerned about the £30,000 salary threshold for those not on the SOL and we will continue working with the Cavendish Coalition on this issue. 

We are delighted that the MAC have taken on our recommendations for medical practitioners to be added to the shortage occupation list. This is a welcome step forward which will help in the short term.

Professor Andrew Goddard, President of the Royal College of Physicians

Welcoming the publication of the report Professor Andrew Goddard, President of the Royal College of Physicians said:

We are delighted that the MAC have taken on our recommendations for medical practitioners to be added to the shortage occupation list. This is a welcome step forward which will help in the short term. Only 55% of advertised consultant posts were filled last year due to shortages of doctors, so this recommendation could make a big difference.

While we must create a welcoming environment for those wishing to come work in the UK we must also be mindful about our approach to taking doctors from countries that are currently suffering from a shortage of medics themselves. 

With this in mind we would encourage the government to expand the Medical Training Initiative which offers a ‘train, learn and return’ approach.

We welcome this report, and its recommendation that the category of Medical Practitioners is added to the Shortage Occupation List. This is a step in the right direction if we’re to begin to address the current NHS workforce shortages throughout the UK.

Royal College of Physicians of London, the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow

Additionally, in a joint statement the Royal College of Physicians of London, the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow said:

We welcome this report, and its recommendation that the category of Medical Practitioners is added to the Shortage Occupation List. This is a step in the right direction if we’re to begin to address the current NHS workforce shortages throughout the UK.

What is also clear from this report, and the evidence submitted to it from a range of health sector bodies, is that workforce planning remains a critical issue for our health service, and that further urgent action is required from the government if we’re to ensure that the NHS is sufficiently staffed to meet the demands of a 21st century service.