Contract dispute 'could send 8 out of 10 medical students overseas'


Eight out of 10 medical students are more likely to work outside the UK following the dispute over new contracts, a survey suggests.

The poll of more than 1,100 medical students for the British Medical Association (BMA) found 82% were less likely to pursue a career in England, where the contract is due to be imposed, and 34% were less likely to pursue a career in medicine at all.

Some 83% said they were more likely to go overseas for work following the dispute while 72% said they were more likely to work in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

The survey comes as thousands of junior doctors across England prepare for a two-day strike next week where they will withdraw all labour - including emergency care.

It is the first all-out strike in the history of the NHS and opponents have warned that hospitals will struggle to cope, with patients' lives potentially being put at risk.

Overall, 94% of medical students surveyed by the BMA said they were less enthusiastic about working in the NHS and 75% said they were now more likely to to work in medicine outside of the NHS.

Over half (56%) said the dispute with the Government would make them re-consider which area of medicine they want to work in.

Charlie Bell, the BMA's medical student committee co-chairman, said: "The imposition of this contract has been immensely damaging to the morale of junior doctors and medical students, and has put the future of the medical workforce at risk.

"The fact that such large numbers of medical students are considering abandoning medicine altogether or working outside the NHS in England shows how far ministers have eroded the trust of the future generation of doctors.

"Almost every medical student surveyed said they were less enthusiastic about working in the NHS, if we lose a generation of doctors our already over-stretched health service will be unable to cope and patient care will inevitably be affected."

Earlier this week, the BMA said it would call off the forthcoming strike if Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt lifted his threat to impose the contract on junior doctors.

But Mr Hunt said it was not possible to "change or delay" the introduction of the controversial contract.

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges  (AMRC) has called on Mr Hunt to accept the BMA's offer and return to the negotiating table.

Figures from the General Medical Council (GMC) show 2,627 doctors in the UK have been issued with certificates of current professional status so far this year, which enable them to work abroad.

Last year, 8,626 doctors were issued with the documents, compared to 4,925 in 2014 and 4,564 in 2008.

The 2015 figures reflect a spike in applications following a social media campaign to encourage doctors to apply for a certificate in protest at the new contract.

A Department of Health spokesman said: "There is no evidence to suggest doctors are leaving the profession. As initial figures show, a similar number of training places have been filled this year compared to last and there are still two more recruitment rounds to go.

"Medicine remains an attractive career proposition - the new contract is a good deal for junior doctors with an average 13.5% basic pay rise and stronger safeguards to limit the maximum number of hours worked."