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- On December 9, 2014
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Critics attack ‘revolving door’ immigration policies that see UK spending billions training medics who go abroad, only to rely on overseas labour to plug the gaps
Britain relies more heavily on foreign doctors than any other major EU nation, according to international research.
More than a third of NHS doctors – 35 per cent – were born abroad, the report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has shown.
The figure puts Britain ahead of every other country in the European Union except Luxembourg, and with a total three times that of Germany.
Yet the UK is also one of the highest exporters of doctors, the report discloses. Critics attacked “revolving door” immigration policies which meant the UK has spent billions of pounds training medics who went abroad, only to rely on overseas labour to plug the gaps.
The UK is also among the nations most dependent on foreign nurses, the report discloses. The figures cover the period 2001-02 to 2011-12.
In total, 21.7 per cent of nurses were born abroad – a sharp increase from a decade earlier when the figure was 15.2 per cent. Across the EU, only Luxembourg, Ireland and Estonia are more dependent on nurses from overseas. The report shows that the UK saw the highest surge in the number of foreign-born doctors, with 34,000 more medics coming here from abroad.
Forty per cent of the overall rise in doctors over the past decade and 65 per cent of the growth in nurses over the period can be attributed to the arrival of foreign workers, the OECD found.
In total, 35.4 per cent of doctors working here now were born overseas, compared with just 5 per cent in Italy, 10.7 per cent in Germany and 19.5 per cent in France, the statistics show.
Until June this year, it was not legal for regulators to test the language skills of doctors if they came from within the European Economic Area.
The law was changed after concern over a series of cases, including that of a Nigerian GP who worked in Germany and killed a British pensioner by giving him a massive dose of painkillers.
Earlier this month, separate research found that hospitals with high numbers of foreign-born nursing staff had the highest levels of patient dissatisfaction and received far worse ratings from them.
The study by King’s College London and the University of Southampton found that patients at those hospitals were more likely to say they struggled to understand staff and were less likely to feel treated with dignity.