Royal Col­leges call for ac­tion to com­bat Brexit-re­lated staffing short­ages in NHS

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - NEWS - BY TOM PETERKIN

Se­nior doc­tors have called on the UK Gov­ern­ment to re­cruit more doc­tors from out­side the Euro­pean Eco­nomic Area (EEA) to com­bat NHS staff short­ages as Brexit ap­proaches.

The Royal Col­leges have high­lighted the dif­fi­cul­ties of re­cruit­ing con­sul­tants to ru­ral ar­eas like the High­lands in a sub­mis­sion to the gov­ern­ment’s Mi­gra­tion Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee (MAC).

The Fed­er­a­tion of the Royal Col­leges of Physi­cians said all physi­cian posts across the NHS should be in­cluded on the Short­age Oc­cu­pa­tion List (SOL), which is run by the MAC and records oc­cu­pa­tions that lack suf­fi­cient res­i­dent work­ers to fill va­can­cies.

The body said the gov­ern­ment should recog­nise that acute and geri­atric posts should be added to the SOL in their own right based on the “sig­nif­i­cant ev­i­dence” that these spe­cial­i­ties are in na­tional short­age.

It also sug­gested the MAC should rec­om­mend that ju­nior doc­tor foun­da­tion year one and year two posts are added to the SOL.

The doc­u­ment quoted fig­ures show­ing that on 18 oc­ca­sions in 2017 an ab­sence of ap­pli­cants meant that as­sess­ment pan­els to re­cruit doc­tors had to be can­celled in NHS High­land – the high­est num­ber of any Scot­tish health board.

In NHS Grampian, the fig­ure was 10 for the same pe­riod. Fail­ure to at­tract an ap­pli­cant was the most com­mon rea­son for po­si­tions not be­ing filled in Scot­land.

Ac­cord­ing to the doc­u­ment, the pro­por­tion of can­celled as­sess­ments for con­sul­tants in acute medicine in Scot­land rose from around 40% in 2016 to over 70% in 2017.

The fig­ure in geri­atric medicine rose from around 40% to around 60% over the same pe­riod, ac­cord­ing to the fed­er­a­tion.

A spokesman said: “These sta­tis­tics show that, in Scot­land, the most com­mon rea­son to can­cel as­sess­ment pan­els is no ap­pli­cants.

“Ru­ral health boards may be more likely to have a greater num­ber of panel can­cel­la­tions, al­though higher rates aren’t ex­clu­sive to those boards.

“Med­i­cal train­ing from stu­dent to con­sul­tant takes a min­i­mum of 13 years. In the short to medium term, in­ter­na­tional re­cruit­ment will have a vi­tal role to play in ad­dress­ing the con­sid­er­able work­force short­ages that ex­ist.”

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