Health education chiefs told to 'reduce NHS demand for migrants'

Health Education England (HEE) has been given a year to draw up plans to 'reduce the demand for international migrants to fill roles in the NHS'.

The health education body, which oversees NHS workforce planning, has been told to deliver the plans just weeks after health secretary Jeremy Hunt unveiled controversial proposals to make England's health service 'self-sufficient for doctors'.

The HEE 'mandate' document that sets out what the organisation has been asked to do by the government over the next year says that 'as part of the development of the workforce plan for England 2017/18, [HEE will] continue to work with partners to meet the government’s commitment to reduce the health and care sectors' reliance on international migration to meet staffing demands'.

It adds that HEE will also be expected to 'produce a clear plan by September 2017 by which HEE intends to reduce the demand for international migrants to fill roles in the NHS so that roles can be removed from the Shortage Occupation List, including non-medical roles by 2019/20'.

BMA GP education, training and workforce lead Dr Krishna Kasaraneni said on twitter that he was 'speechless that it has come to this'.

Mr Hunt told the Conservative party conference last month that the government would increase the number of medical training places in universities to build a more 'home-grown NHS' and impose a four-year mandatory term of service in the NHS for medical graduates 'just as army recruits are asked to after their training'.

But the plans have been heavily criticised, with NHS leaders warning the health service could not cope without overseas doctors.

BMA chairman Dr Mark Porter warned after the party conference speech: 'We desperately need more doctors, particularly with the government plans for further seven-day services, but it will take a decade for extra places at medical school to produce more doctors.

'This initiative will not stop the NHS from needing to recruit overseas staff. International doctors bring great skill and expertise to the NHS. Without them, our health service would not be able to cope.'

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