More than three hundred people have signed a petition calling on the government to make it easier for British medical students who graduate abroad to work in the NHS when they return home
This is an edited version of an article first published by GPonline.
The petition set up by the parent of a British medical student in her fifth year at a medical school in Bulgaria, originally targeted 100 signatures to raise awareness about the difficulties medical graduates trained abroad face finding employment in the UK.
It follows reporting in GPonline last month that the government risked missing out on thousands of potential GPs because it was failing to give adequate support to British people studying medicine abroad to enter the NHS workforce.
332 people have now signed the petition, with those behind the campaign hoping to reach 500 signatures. They hope that a specific pathway will be created for these young doctors who train abroad to allow them to enter the UK workforce and help ease the national shortage of GPs.
An estimated 3,000 British medical students are currently completing their degrees in Bulgaria alone – a trend fuelled by heavy competition for UK medical school places, sky-high tuition fees and high UK living costs.
These doctors often struggle to find work in the UK upon their return because of a lack of available training positions and a shortage of stand-alone FY2 posts – the level at which these doctors seek work after a six-year training programme.
Competition from other doctors from overseas with years of experience who are eligible for the same roles, is another stumbling block.
Dr Kola Akindele, whose daughter is in the fifth year of her studies, said he created the petition to make the British public aware of the situation faced by these students and raise awareness of opportunities to increase the GP workforce.
‘These graduates aren’t getting FY2 positions because of a lack of experience and can’t get FY1 positions because they are overqualified, having spent six years in Bulgarian universities.
‘Friends of my daughter, who are in the year above, are experiencing difficulties [finding work in the UK when they return home] and, as my daughter is currently in her fifth year, she will soon be affected.
‘I’m concerned about the possibility that my daughter, having studied for so long and taking on huge debt, may face difficulty securing a job.’
Former RCGP deputy medical director of assessment Dr Anwar Khan, who makes regular visits to British medical students in Bulgaria, has supported the petition and encouraged the government to make better use of the potential pool of GPs.
‘We are so short of doctors but don’t look in our own backyard where we have UK residents trained abroad who are a willing workforce. They are resilient and very committed to a career in medicine. Let’s make them welcome – what is there not to love in this approach?