FUTURE OF MEDICAL WORKFORCE IS AT RISK – says BMA

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Student nurses fighting against the abolition of bursaries by the Tory government
Student nurses fighting against the abolition of bursaries by the Tory government

THE British Medical Association (BMA) is warning that the future of the medical workforce is at risk.

This comes as a new survey of medical students in England finds that eight in ten (82%) are less likely to pursue a career in the NHS in England, while a third of students (34.3%) are less likely to pursue a medical career at all.

The survey highlights a possible exodus of future doctors to other parts of the UK or overseas, and shows that, in light of the contract dispute, almost all those surveyed (94%) were less enthusiastic about working in the NHS and the vast majority (82.4%) believe the NHS is a less inclusive employer.

The survey, to which 1,197 medical students in England responded, coincides with the BMA medical student committee’s annual conference which took place in London on Friday.

The survey found that, in light of the contract dispute and the government’s plans for imposition:

• More than eight in ten (82.4%) were less likely to pursue a career in England

• A third of those surveyed (34.3%) were less likely to pursue a career in medicine

• Eight out of ten (82.9%) are more likely to work in medicine outside of the UK

• Seven out of ten (72.2%) are more likely work in the NHS in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland

• Three quarters of medical students (74.5%) are more likely to work in medicine outside of the NHS entirely

• Nine out of ten (94%) medical students are less enthusiastic about working in the NHS

• Eight in ten medical students (81.8%) believe the NHS is a less inclusive employer

• More than half of medical students (55.5%) are likely to re-consider which area of medicine they want to work in.

Commenting on the findings, Charlie Bell, BMA medical student committee co-chair, said: ‘The imposition of this contract has been immensely damaging to the morale of junior doctors and medical students, and has put the future of the medical workforce at risk.

‘The fact that such large numbers of medical students are considering abandoning medicine altogether or working outside the NHS in England shows how far ministers have eroded the trust of the future generation of doctors.

‘Almost every medical student surveyed said they were less enthusiastic about working in the NHS. If we lose a generation of doctors our already over-stretched health service will be unable to cope and patient care will inevitably be affected.

‘We urge the government to listen to the growing chorus of concerns, sit down with junior doctors and address their outstanding worries. For the sake of patients, doctors and the future of the NHS, ministers must get back around the negotiating table and end this dispute through talks.’

Natasha Storey is a third year medical student at the University of Glasgow. Originally from Carlisle, she intended to return to England to work but the government’s handling of the junior doctor contract has changed her mind.

She said: ‘I chose to study medicine because I want to care for people when they need it most.

‘That’s why this contract concerns me – it would be bad for the delivery of patient care in the long term. Despite what the government may say, this dispute is about much more than pay – it is about wanting a contract that is fair and will ensure the NHS can recruit and retain junior doctors in the future.

‘I am one of the next generation of doctors. I want to dedicate my career to caring for patients. Yet the health secretary’s imposition has made me decide against a medical career in England. If others vote with their feet, the future of patient care and the NHS will be impacted.’

The survey ‘Impact of the contract and future intentions’ asked students:

‘Given what you have heard and read about the contract being imposed on junior doctors and the EIA (Equality Impact Assessment) conducted by the DH, have the recent developments made you more likely, equally likely, or less likely to do the following:

‘To pursue a career in medicine when you graduate?

More likely – 0.8%

Equally likely – 63.2%

Less likely – 34.3%

Cannot say –1.7%

Total– 100.0%

‘To pursue a career in the NHS in England when you graduate?

More likely – 0.3%

Equally likely – 15.5%

Less likely – 82.4%

Cannot say – 1.8%

Total – 100.0%

‘To pursue a career in the NHS outside of England when you graduate?

e.g. to work for the NHS in Scotland, Wales or NI.

More likely – 72.2%

Equally likely – 19.0%

Less likely – 5.2%

Cannot say – 3.7%

Total – 100.0%

‘To pursue a career in medicine outside of the NHS?

More likely – 74.5%

Equally likely – 19.8%

Less likely – 1.9%

Cannot say – 3.8%

Total – 100.0%

‘To pursue a career in medicine outside of the UK when you graduate?

More likely – 82.9%

Equally likely – 14.3%

Less likely – 0.9%

Cannot say – 1.9%

Total – 100.0%

To re-consider which area of medicine you wanted to work in?

More likely – 55.5%

Equally likely – 33.8%

Less likely – 4.3%

Cannot say – 6.4%

Total – 100.0%

To take a break during your career or work less than full-time (if working in the NHS in England in the future)?

More likely – 36.6%

Equally likely – 22.6%

Less likely – 27.9%

Cannot say – 12.9%

Total – 100.0%

Attitudes and reactions to contract imposition

Thinking about the wider impact of the recent events: the junior doctor contract to be imposed and the publication of the Equality Impact Assessment…

Which of the following best describes the effect imposing the contract has had on…

How much you look forward to working in the NHS in the future?

More enthusiastic – 0.6%

Less enthusiastic – 94.0%

No change – 4.8%

Cannot say – 0.6%

Total – 100.0%

How likely you are to recommend studying medicine to your family or friends?

More likely – 0.5%

Less likely – 76.5%

No change – 20.3%

Cannot say – 2.7%

Total – 100.0%

How inclusive you view the NHS as an employer?

More inclusive – 0.3%

Less inclusive – 81.8%

No change – 9.3%

Cannot say – 8.6%

Total – 100.0%