Overseas junior doctors warned to expect unemployment in the UK

February 10, 2005

So many junior overseas doctors are struggling to get jobs in the United Kingdom that they are now being warned to be prepared for long periods of unemployment, writes Peter Trewby, of the Royal College of Physicians in this week's BMJ Career Focus.

The move follows a recent survey by the College working group on international medical graduates showing that junior doctors from outside the European Union were coming to the UK in larger numbers than ever but many are unable to find posts.

The NHS is totally dependent on international medical graduates, who make up a third of the junior workforce. Yet, remarkably, it has no system for matching graduates to vacancies, nor any way of informing those thinking of coming to the UK of current job competition. Until around four years ago, supply and demand were roughly matched, but it seems no more.

The warning is part of a package of measures to provide accurate information on job prospects to help graduates decide whether or not to come to the UK.

"Doctors are coming to the United Kingdom from countries with greater health needs than ours, but far from gaining experience they are spending long periods unemployed," says the author. "The system reflects badly on the NHS and all of those who work in it."

For the future, he recommends moving away from the present ad hoc arrangements towards a central clearing house to which international graduates apply before leaving their posts at home.
-end-


BMJ

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