Faced with the lack of doctors and nurses in England, the authorities announced on Friday an ambitious fifteen-year recruitment plan, to try to get the public health service out of a deep crisis, notably marked by unprecedented strikes in recent months. .
A few days before the 75e anniversary of the National Health Service (NHS) on Wednesday, the Ministry of Health unveiled a plan to eventually recruit 300,000 health professionals: 60,000 doctors, 170,000 nurses and 71,000 other employees in the sector.
Huge waiting lists
The NHS, dear to the hearts of the British, is going through a deep crisis, weakened in particular for several years by the austerity policies led by the Conservatives, in power for thirteen years, and faced with the aging of the population.
The Covid-19 pandemic has made the situation worse, creating gigantic waiting lists in many specialties – more than 7.4 million people were waiting for treatment in England in April.
The NHS currently has 112,000 vacancies, a figure that would rise to 360,000 by 2037 if nothing is done. According to the OECD, the United Kingdom is at the bottom of the ranking among the countries of Western Europe, with 3.2 doctors per thousand inhabitants, just like Belgium, and behind France (3.4) .
Presenting at a press conference “the most ambitious plan” recruitment within the NHS, the British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, wants to reduce the proportion of foreign medical personnel who join the public health service to one in ten, against one in four currently.
To cope with the shortage of white coats, there are plans to increase the number of places available for training, whether nurses start work in May rather than September when they finish their studies, or to reform plans pension scheme to keep up to 130,000 NHS staff working longer.
More than 11 billion euros in savings
The health authorities also want to launch a consultation on the possibility of reducing from five to four years the duration to obtain the doctor’s degree.
With general elections due by the end of next year approaching, where polls point to a landslide victory for the Labor opposition, the government has also announced a package of £2.4 billion (2 8 billion euros) over five years for training, including an apprenticeship program for doctors.
Rishi Sunak has touted the biggest training plan in NHS history. “This is something no other government has ever done and it will be one of the most important commitments I make as Prime Minister.”, did he declare. The NHS also wants to cut spending by £10bn (€11.6bn) by 2036-37.
After the unprecedented strike movements of recent months, the NHS will again in July have to deal with strikes by several categories of doctors.