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Covid-19: Refugee doctors join NHS through innovative scheme

BMJ 2021; 375 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n2993 (Published 06 December 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;375:n2993

Rapid Response:

Re: Covid-19: Refugee doctors join NHS through innovative scheme

Dear Editor,

The West Midlands initiative is impressive and offers a role model for other health regions. I am sure we all have experience of working with skilled and dedicated colleagues who have studied outside the UK and who overcome the challenges of PLAB and adapting to the NHS to add value to our healthcare services. With the current staffing crises resulting from so many resignations, retirements and now sick leave and the impact of Covid, the promise of more places for medical and nursing students with the associated expectation for teachers, trainers and supervisors will not be met by the additional funding currently being described and will not supplement the workforce for 3 to 5 years at least.

Meanwhile there has been no apparent focus on the non clinical work that might be undertaken by the skilled clerical and administrative staff whose roles were so often regarded as superfluous in the move to electronic records and systems in the NHS. Doctors reporting reasons for burnout, stress and consideration of leaving the NHS record increased bureaucracy, form filling, data collection as major contributors to their deteriorating job satisfaction and mental wellbeing. Would consideration of ways to reduce the burden of administrative tasks restore some of the resilience of doctors (and I hope nurses and AHPs)? Has research been done to assess the time for clinical care that might be freed by restoration of the status of a medical secretary or 'Clinical Team PA' to organise the team with the expertise of a trained administrator - with a bleep or team smart phone? This might provide evidence for a much quicker remedy to part of the current crisis.

Thank you to all those carrying the Covid can and knowing it is not the only issue facing the NHS today.

Competing interests: No competing interests

01 January 2022
Una Mac Fadyen
Retired paediatrician
NSS
Forth Valley