27 October 2022
The General Medical Council (GMC) today released a Workforce Report showing how the UK’s medical workforce has changed between 2017 and 2022. It demonstrates the growing contribution of international medical graduates (IMGs) to provision of healthcare in the UK: since 2017, the rate at which IMGs joining the medical register has increased 121%, while UK graduates have increased by only 2%. Overall diversity has also grown, with 42% of doctors now from minority ethnic backgrounds. IMGs are less likely than others to remain in the UK long-term, with 89% of UK graduates still in practice within 6 years of joining, compared to only 66% of IMGs, and 47% of EEA graduates.
Image Credit: GMC
We welcome the GMC’s conclusion, “As the demographics and backgrounds of the workforce change it will become even more important to ensure all doctors work in supportive environments where diversity is embraced and inequalities are addressed. Tackling the barriers to career progression and more general exclusion that doctors can face will aid retention but will also mean the UK’s healthcare systems will get more from these doctors as they build skills and experience.”
This echoes THET’s work to ensure better recognition of diaspora NHS staff expertise, and their contribution to the UK and global health systems. Our recent Experts In Our Midst report underscores the role of unconscious bias and persistent racism in hindering this recognition. We argue for development of an inclusive culture which truly values this expertise and the GMC report offers new and strong support for this position.
THET has been working towards this vision by creating a diversity network to support the engagement of diaspora NHS staff with countries of heritage. Our Experts In Our Midst report also provides a framework for celebrating the contributions of these staff to global health and ultimately support retention.
The GMC report highlights the urgent need for making inclusion a priority, by which much-needed doctors can be encouraged to remain in UK healthcare. Healthcare workforce shortages, as evidenced in THET’s From Drain To Gain report, are affecting every country in the world. We therefore applaud the GMC’s clear endorsement of structured support for IMGs and diaspora NHS staff as a way to improve retention of staff in the UK.
THET will continue to support our partners in tackling this issue through approaches which may benefit both individuals and broader health systems, including evaluating up-skilling approaches and engaging private recruitment companies.
The GMC report reiterates the need for the UK to build a sustainable and resilient healthcare workforce. In this process, it is important to promote and exemplify ethical international recruitment practices and acknowledge the UK’s place in global health as not only a competitor, but a collaborator.