THE NHS is too hooked on foreign doctors and nurses and will go on a British training blitz to staff our hospitals, Steve Barclay today declares.
Thousands more apprentice nurses and doctors will be taught to beef up the health service workforce.
The Government is planning an overhaul of the NHS to train more Brits and become less reliant on foreign doctors and nurses[/caption]
Health Secretary Steve Barclay has helped to draw up the NHS workforce plan which will be announced this week[/caption]
The cap on medical school places is set to be doubled from 7,500 in England to 15,000 so more brainy pupils can become doctors.
Ministers have also signed off just over £1billion more in training cash for the NHS to teach medics beyond the next election.
Writing in today’s Sun on Sunday, Mr Barclay says: “Despite the huge scale of its workforce, I know there are problems with vacancies, workload, and we rely too much on recruiting people from abroad.
“That’s why this week we will publish our historic Long Term Workforce Plan — the first of its kind — to set out our plans to train, retain and reform the NHS workforce.
“This will be backed by significant investment so we can begin the process of ensuring the NHS workforce is ready to meet the future challenges.”
Hailing this newspaper’s campaign to get more Britons into apprenticeships, he added: “The Sun on Sunday’s Builder Better Britain campaign has helped to encourage youngsters to get into work through an apprenticeship and our plan will give them more work opportunities in healthcare.”
Whenever the NHS has been hit by staff shortages in the past it has always gone looking abroad for people to fill vacancies.
But ministers have become increasingly worried that recruits will dry up as the global scramble for medics heats up.
There is also a growing feeling in Whitehall that it is “perverse” for rich countries such as Britain to poach desperately needed doctors and nurses from poorer countries.
Last year, more foreign doctors joined the NHS than the total number of medical school places available in English universities.
Some 12,148 from abroad signed up — whereas the government caps the number of medical school places at just 7,500.
Mr Barclay’s frank admission that we need to train more medics here at home to staff the NHS represents a significant shift in policy.
Parts of Britain blighted by doctor shortages are expected to be targeted in the training blitz.
The NHS is also expected to use more physician associates and anaesthesia associates.
They are trained more quickly than doctors, but can perform many of the medical tasks doctors carry out.
Whitehall insiders said the blueprint is a “big bang moment” which everyone in Whitehall is signed up to.
Mr Barclay said the plan is “not a one off” but the beginning of a “roadmap that goes well beyond the next few years”.
He said the plan puts “people at the heart” of the NHS.
PM Rishi Sunak has agreed funding to train a new generation of British doctors and nurses[/caption]
It is designed to stop the “feast or famine” approach to NHS training budgets.
NHS England is the country’s biggest employer, with a workforce of 1.5 million people.
Nurse degree apprenticeships were first set up in 2016, and doctor degree apprenticeships were announced earlier this year.
Both give Britons the chance to train to be medics on the job.
They let recruits earn while training and help plug vacancies in the NHS more quickly.
While hugely popular with No 10, most nurses and doctors still come via the more expensive and slower university route.
Mr Sunak has staked his political authority on improving our crisis-hit health service.
He promised Britons “NHS waiting lists will fall” as one of his five priorities.
Last week he announced plans to use artificial intelligence in the NHS to slash waiting lists.
The technology can diagnose diseases and treat patients faster.
A £23million funding pot has been created to turbocharge its rollout across hospitals.
But he is facing a tough battle as the NHS is in one of the worst crises in its history.
Clobbered by Covid and strikes, the service is struggling as waiting lists spiral.
Junior doctors will strike for five days next month in the longest walkout in NHS history.
British Medical Association members will down tools from July 13 to 18 in their demand for an inflation-busting pay rise of 35 per cent.
Hospitals are having to fork out millions of pounds per day covering striking junior doctor shifts.
And while the workforce plan will train more Brits, junior doctors are being lured to Australia with the offer of £130,000 a year and timed off to “travel, swim and surf”.
My prescription for a workforce fit for the future
By Steve Barclay, Health Secretary
TODAY’S NHS looks very different from the pictures of nurses in white uniforms and stethoscope-wearing doctors taken at its birth in 1948.
Yet as we celebrate the 75th anniversary this summer, the tireless and dedicated workforce remains the beating heart of a service we all cherish so much.
That army of surgeons, GPs, nurses, midwives, paramedics, porters and other staff has grown far beyond the imagination of those who founded the world’s first national health service.
The NHS started with 144,000 staff. Now a record 1.6million people work for it, more than at any other employer in the UK.
Every one is crucial to making sure the system can care for patients whenever they need it – from breaking a bone, to having a baby, or saving thousands of lives during a once-in-a-generation pandemic.
We know the NHS cannot stand still and must constantly adapt to meet challenges.
As our population ages, there will be rising demand for services, and higher levels of chronic, long-term ill-health.
That means how patients interact with the service is changing.
These challenges also create opportunities for finding new ways of treating and caring for patients.
We are already harnessing the potential of technology to revolutionise how we provide care.
A.I. is speeding up diagnosis and the NHS App is making it easier for patients to manage their care and choose where they are treated.
We also need to look at how the workforce can adapt and how we can help free up the workload of doctors and nurses.
We need to update the way we recruit, retain and train staff to ensure the NHS is sustainable for the future.
Despite the huge scale of its workforce, I know there are problems with vacancies, workload, and we rely too much on recruiting people from abroad.
That is why this week we will publish our historic Long Term Workforce Plan – the first of its kind – to set out plans to train, retain and reform the NHS workforce.
This will be backed by significant investment so we can begin the process of ensuring the NHS workforce is ready to meet the future challenges.
The Sun on Sunday’s Builder Better Britain campaign has helped to encourage youngsters to get into work through an apprenticeship, and our plan will give them more work opportunities in healthcare.
We want to give people from all backgrounds the chance to pursue a variety of careers in the NHS.
At the moment, eight per cent of nurses are trained through the apprenticeship route.
The NHS is the largest employer of apprentices in the public sector, but there is potential to go further.
This is just one part of our plan to recruit and retain more staff, to ensure the NHS can meet increasing demand and continue to cut waiting lists – one of the Government’s top five priorities.
It is a start – but not a one-off. I see this as a roadmap that goes far beyond the next few years and will look to solve the long-term challenges.
By doing this, we can make sure the NHS has the staff it needs to provide the care patients expect, as well as providing greater resilience to potential future shocks, such as a pandemic.
We are equipping the NHS with the tools, techniques and treatments it needs to face its future challenges head on.
This plan puts people at the heart of the health service.
It will ensure it remains at the heart of the British identity and something we continue to be proud of for generations to come.