August 5, 2022 2.00 pm This story is over 22 months old

More doctors training in Lincolnshire after drop in local staff

Overseas recruitment not enough to fill the gap

Lincolnshire healthcare bosses said the number of new doctors in training in the county is increasing, as new data shows UK doctors and nurses joining England’s NHS nationally are at the lowest level for seven years.

The BBC’s Shared Data Unit looked at workforce data from NHS Digital around the number of staff joining England’s NHS which are “home grown” versus those who come from the EU and the rest of the world.

Nationally, some 58% of doctors joining the health service last year came from the UK, down from 69% in 2015.

Over the same period, the share of new UK nurses fell from 74% to 61%.

The pattern was reflected locally as well.

At United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust, the share of UK staff joining the trust dropped by 18.2% between 2015 and 2021. Over the same period, the share of staff recruited from the Rest of the World rose by 21%.

At LCHS, the share of UK staff stropped by 3.7% while overseas changes rose by 1.2%.

Most Lincolnshire trusts also only saw a minor variations in EU workforce.

Lincolnshire Partnership Foundation Trust was the only trust to reverse the pattern and see a rise in UK staff (1.2%), and a drop of 1.1% in overseas staff.

Elsewhere, at NLAG in Northern Lincolnshire, the share of UK staff joining the trust dropped by 4.7%, however, the number of EU workers also dropped by 15.6%, the biggest drop in the region. The number of staff recruited from the rest of the world rose by 20.4%, almost in line with ULHT.

The data from the BBC Shared Data Unit showing the drop in homegrown vs rest of the world staff. | Image: BBC

Ceri Lennon, Chair of the Lincolnshire People Board (which serves the county’s health and care community), said there was “no quick fix to the attraction and recruitment challenge faced by us in Lincolnshire”.

“Sustainable, long-term solutions need to be put in place to ensure local health and care partners are effectively staffed.

“This means ensuring careers in the Lincolnshire health and care system are attractive and fulfilling, and that staff are adequately supported, funded, paid and valued.”

However, she said that Lincolnshire’s NHS Trusts were “continuing to show a dowward trend” in medical and nursing vacancies opposed to rising figures across the Midlands.

“Whilst the last three years have shown a steady decline in Partner/Senior partners in Primary Care in Lincolnshire, Salaried GPs and Training Grade GPs are seeing a healthy increase,” she said.

“This is representative of the trend regionally and nationally. There are 48% more ‘doctors in training’ in Lincolnshire as of March 2022 than in March 2019.”

Lincolnshire, she said was emphasising growing the nursing workforce to mitigate gaps.

In order to fill gaps the ICB runs a series of programmes including a Be Lincolnshire attraction programme, international recruitment, and a series of workforce strategies and programmes.

Data from the Integrated Care Board showed Lincolnshire was performing better than its regional and national counterparts in a number of areas. | Image: Lincolnshire ICB

A spokesperson for Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Trusts said the national figures did reflect a similar situation at their facilities.

They said: “Recruitment of NHS staff from overseas was in its infancy in 2015 and this has grown year-on-year.

“Fewer number of medical school places, removal of degree bursaries and social deprivation and educational attainment standards has also contributed.”

However, they said there were plans in place to change the trajectory of figures, including: “Initiatives such as nursing and medical apprenticeships, exploring the use of different models of delivering patient care including introducing new roles such as Physician Associates and Nursing Practitioners. We also expect an increase in university placements.”

Nationally, the British Medical Association told the BBC the NHS faced a “workforce crisis”.

The government, however, insisted there were record numbers of doctors, a rise of 34% since 2010.

While overall numbers have been increasing, critics said declining domestic recruitment was unsustainable to keep pace with demand.

On Monday, a report by the cross-party Commons health and social care select committee concluded the large number of unfilled NHS job vacancies was posing a serious risk to patient safety.