Third of medical students plan to quit NHS within two years of graduating | NHS #medical #students #plan #quit #NHS #years #graduating #NHS

One in three medical students plan to quit the NHS within two years of graduating, either to practise abroad or abandon medicine altogether, according to the largest survey of its kind.

Poor pay, work-life balance and working conditions of doctors in the UK were the main factors cited by those intending to emigrate to continue their medical career.

The same reasons were also given by those planning to quit medicine altogether, with nearly 82% of them also listing burnout as an important or very important reason.

The findings from the study of 10,486 students at the UK’s 44 medical schools, published in the journal BMJ Open, triggered calls for action to prevent an exodus of medical students from the NHS.

They come weeks after junior and senior doctors announced the first joint strike in the history of the health service, which is expected to bring widespread disruption in September and October.

The Guardian revealed in July that the NHS was losing senior doctors to countries including Ireland, Australia and the United Arab Emirates because they could double their salary and enjoy better working conditions.

The new research, revealing the intentions of medical students after university graduation or on completing the two-year NHS foundation training programme, will prompt further alarm among medical leaders trying to tackle the spiralling workforce crisis.

About 60% of those surveyed, whose average age was 22, were either not satisfied or not at all satisfied with the prospect of working in the NHS.

All students were asked their career intentions after graduation, with most (84%) planning to complete both years of the UK’s foundation training. But about a third revealed they planned to leave the NHS within two years of graduating, either to practise abroad or pursue other careers.

Among the 2,543 medical students citing a preference for their destination country, Australia was the most mentioned (43%), followed by New Zealand (18%), the US and Canada (both 10%).

Of those set to emigrate, half said they were planning a return to UK medicine after a few years, while nearly 8% intend to return after completion of their medical training abroad. But 43% said they had no intention of returning to Britain.

Fewer than 3% of all those surveyed planned to leave medicine altogether, but those who did wanted to pursue careers in consulting, technology, finance and law.

Writing in the BMJ Open, the authors, including students at the University of Cambridge and Imperial College London, said the NHS was facing a “critical workforce shortage”.

It was unsurprising students planned to leave for countries such as Australia “given the higher salaries, reports of improved work-life balance, and the fact that these countries’ primary language is English”, they said.

The authors concluded: “The findings of this study emphasise the urgency of addressing the factors that are driving the exodus of doctors from the NHS and suggest that increased recruitment of medical students may not provide an adequate solution to staffing challenges.

“Undoubtedly, the continued loss of skilled professionals from the NHS represents a significant concern, so it is critical to consider means of reversing this trend.”

Unveiling the NHS long-term workforce plan in June, Rishi Sunak said figures suggested about 95% of medics still worked for the NHS after foundation training.

Asked whether students should be tied to an NHS contract, he said “the scale of what is happening is not at the scale of what people commonly assume” and that he had not thought it was the right approach to take.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “There are record numbers of staff working in the NHS, with over 6,000 more doctors compared to this time last year. And the first ever NHS long-term workforce plan, backed by over £2.4bn, will double the number of medical school places to recruit and retain hundreds of thousands more staff over the next 15 years.”

#medical #students #plan #quit #NHS #years #graduating #NHS

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