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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

We must not become a net exporter of medical talent

I have written a post for the BMA Cymru Wales website about the shortage of doctors in Wales:

The need for new doctors in Wales is one that is not just confined to hospitals. The number of GPs under 45 has dropped considerably in the last ten years, from 951 to 743, while the number aged over 55 has increased from 272 to 450. This means we could expect roughly a quarter of our present GPs to be retiring within the next ten years or so.

Despite this, there has been no real increase in the number of GPs at the younger age of the scale during this period.

Many of those from Wales who choose to study medicine do so outside of Wales. Young people often do not want to stay in the area they have been brought up in and use their student years to explore the world by experiencing new places and people. This is natural and leads to well rounded individuals who are needed by every workforce.

However, what is important is that we do not become a net exporter of medical talent. When someone leaves Wales to study, we need to ensure that they are encouraged to return and that those who come from England to study in Wales are encouraged to remain.
What appears to be happening is that the export of doctors is partially balanced by the import of those from outside the EU who have studied here. That has two effects: it reduces the number of qualified people in their home countries, typically third-world countries who need them; and it exacerbates anti-immigration feeling here.

The answer would appear to be a medical school of world quality in Wales, but how to get there from here?
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