BBC local news data unit uncovers workforce crisis in NHS

The share of homegrown doctors and nurses joining England’s NHS is at its lowest for seven years, BBC Shared Data Unit analysis of workforce data has found.

Some 58% of doctors joining the health service last year came from the UK, with health bosses increasingly turning to international recruitment.

The British Medical Association said 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.

The Shared Data Unit is part of the Local News Partnership set up by the BBC to work with local publishers around the UK. The Partnership also funds the Local Democracy Reporting Scheme, which employs 165 journalists to cover councils with local publishers around the UK.

The BBC’s Shared Data Unit analysed workforce data provided by NHS Digital from 2015 to 2021, to investigate if trends the team first reported following the Brexit referendum in June 2016 continued.

It found the share of UK doctors joining the health service had fallen from 69% in 2015 to 58% last year. Over the same period, the share of new UK nurses fell from 74% to 61%.

Recruitment of doctors from the Rest of the World rose from 18% to 34% over the same period, and that share of international nurses rose from 7% to 34%.

University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust saw UK doctor numbers joining fall by 222 between 2015 and 2021, while Pennine Care in Greater Manchester saw the number fall 202.

ManchesterWorld reported on the fall in UK doctors joining the NHS there, the Hampstead and Highgate Express revealed how fewer UK medical staff were joining Trusts in North London and the Peterborough Telegraph revealed the steps being taken to get more UK doctors to join Trusts in their part of Cambridgeshire.

It is one of a number of agenda-setting data journalism projects the team has produced this year. It has also revealed the scale of long-term waits to get NHS dentist appointments, how police officers facing gross misconduct charges avoid getting sacked and the gender divide between men and women artists headlining music festivals.

  • In 2022, Behind Local News aims to celebrate local journalism in all its forms through our 365 Acts of Local Journalism Project. Lets us know what you think should be included. You can email us here or contact us via Twitter on BehindLocalNews or on Facebook here.

>> See the series so far, here

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