The medical profession would oppose tighter restrictions on the employment opportunities of overseas doctors and medical students, new research indicates today (Thursday 1 November, 2007).
This is one of the findings from a survey of BMA members on the recommendations of Sir John Tooke's independent inquiry into medical training. The results, published at a BMA conference today, also show that doctors support some of Sir John's recommendations, but are still undecided on many of them.
The Tooke inquiry called for greater clarity about the immigration status of overseas medical students, and the English Department of Health is considering plans to make it harder for international doctors to apply for postgraduate training posts.
Almost two thirds (64%) of the 737 doctors and medical students surveyed by the BMA believe that overseas students graduating from UK medical schools should not be prevented from competing for training jobs. Over half (57.4%) think that doctors who qualified overseas should be entitled to compete for training posts with UK graduates, although most of these thought that this should apply only to those already working in the NHS.
Dr Hamish Meldrum, Chairman of Council at the BMA, says:
"The government has made a mess of medical training. It appears they are now trying to penalise the thousands of overseas doctors and medical students who want to work in the NHS."
Other key findings include:
• Half of respondents oppose the idea of a national computerised examination on entry to core specialist training
• Eight in ten respondents agree with Tooke's recommendation that medical career structures should be the same across the UK
• Most respondents (88%) agree that there should be more emphasis on aspiration to excellence in medical training, and 85% agree that there should be more flexibility
• Eight in ten (80%) think junior doctors need to be better represented in NHS management
• Six in ten (57%) believe that opportunities for posts in teaching and research should be available to all trainees
• Seven in ten (69%) agree that training for general practice should be extended to five years.