Scottish health secretary Shona Robison has condemned proposals by her UK counterpart Jeremy Hunt to eliminate the need to recruit doctors from overseas.
Mr Hunt yesterday pledged to recruit an additional 1,500 junior doctors annually to make the UK “self sufficient”.
Last night Prime Minister Theresa May denied that overseas doctors in the UK would be sent home or stopped from coming to Britain in future, but the plans were condemned as “short-sighted in the extreme” by the Scottish Government.
Ms Robison said: “These are irresponsible comments that will hamper NHS efforts to recruit doctors to vacancies and training places now – and that in turn could have a real impact on patient care.
“Medical professionals from outside this country have played a vital and valued part in our NHS for decades, and continue to do so, and their contribution should not be dismissed in this way. In Scotland we want the best and the brightest from around the world to stay, build their careers here and contribute to the economy and our society.”
Mr Hunt asked: “Is it right to import doctors from poorer countries that need them while turning away bright home graduates desperate to study medicine?”
He said the NHS in England would aim to meet the self-sufficiency target by 2025. More than 100,000 doctors working in the NHS come from outside the UK.
Asked last night if overseas doctors in the UK could be sent home, the Prime Minister said: “This is about ensuring that we have more British doctors trained so that they can take places in the NHS. It will be for hospitals to decide who they employ in terms of the openings they have.”