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Emergency Medicine (Doctor Recruitment)

Volume 596: debated on Tuesday 2 June 2015

6. What recent discussions his Department has had with the Royal College of Emergency Medicine on the recruitment of additional middle-grade doctors for NHS hospitals. (900006)

The Secretary of State meets the Royal College of Emergency Medicine on a regular basis. The number of middle-grade emergency medicine doctors has increased by 24% since May 2010. Health Education England is working with the RCEM further to strengthen the workforce to ensure that patients receive high quality care.

I thank the Minister for his response, but I disagree with him. There is a shortage of middle-grade accident and emergency doctors. When will the next recruitment of such doctors take place in the Indian subcontinent and elsewhere and have all the Home Office regulations and impediments been resolved to allow the recruitment to take place?

I should make it clear first that, for the hon. Lady’s constituents, we have no say over the control of the health service in Northern Ireland. We have seen an increase of 24% in middle-grade doctors in the English health service and, as I have said, we have seen an increase in all doctors in emergency medicine of 25%. That is a considerable increase in an area that has been difficult to recruit to for a very long time. The Government made a difference in our previous incarnation and we will continue to do so.

I welcome my hon. Friend to his place and wish him well. Is he aware that when the Select Committee on Health considered emergency care and took evidence from the Royal College of Emergency Medicine in the last Parliament it was clear that there was a perception among doctors that this was not as attractive as other specialties and that that is a serious problem? What is he going to do about it?

I thank my hon. Friend for bringing that to my attention. I was not aware of it and it is certainly something I shall consider. There are several specialties in the NHS where this is a problem and I shall be addressing that as I review the workforce in the years to come.

Of course the Minister knows that his problem is not just recruitment; it is also retention. In that context, is he planning to make greater use of physicians’ assistants?