Refugee doctors set to fill NHS staff shortages

Refugee doctors are set to be retrained to work in the NHS in Lincolnshire as part of a new initiative to help relieve an acute staffing crisis.

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The Lincolnshire Refugee Doctor Project said they had created placements at hospitals that would help refugee medics get the clinical experience they needed to work in the UK.

Doctors, from countries including war-torn Afghanistan and Syria, would also receive language support and mentoring as part of the scheme, it said.

Organisers hope to retrain 10 doctors in the first phase of the project. Middlesbrough and London have piloted similar initiatives before, but the programme is yet to be rolled out nationwide.

Organisers are still struggling to secure funding, despite the relatively low cost of retraining existing doctors compared to teaching British doctors from scratch.

“It’s about one tenth of the cost of training a medical student, so there’s a powerful financial argument,” Andrew Mowat, chairman of the project, told The Independent. “It’s a win-win situation, both for the NHS and for the refugee doctors.

“It costs one tenth the price and takes half the time – between three and five years – and they then plug into NHS training at a foundation level.”

NHS doctors must be registered with the General Medical Council (GMC) in order to practice and must pass rigorous language and clinical testing.

Mr Mowat said the project was prepared to help organise support for the refugees to help them transition, including securing their accommodation and services they need.

It emerged in July that staff vacancies in the NHS had risen by more than 10 per cent in a year, with tens of thousands of posts left unfilled.

Earlier this week it was announced that United Lincolnshire Hospital Trust had been placed in special measures, after the body accumulated a deficit of £30.7m.

“The reason this [project] is important to Lincolnshire is that we have a massive workforce crisis,” Mr Mowat said. “We’re short of 70 GPs and 90 hospital doctors.”

“Our hospital trust is in financial difficulty because it is having to pay out a huge amount in agency fees to fill these vacancies.”

There were around 600 refugee doctors known to the British Medical Association who were not currently working in the NHS, Mr Mowat said.

 

Harriet Agerholm, The Independent