A third of the doctors working for the Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust were trained abroad, the chief executive has revealed as she welcomed plans to boost the number trained in the UK.
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt outlined plans in a Tory conference speech this week, for up to 1,500 additional training places every year in UK medical schools.
At the moment, half of people applying for medical school are rejected because there are not enough places.
Speaking on Radio 4 on Tuesday, Susan Acott, head of the Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust said: “Expansion of medical training is very desirable. We’re a very under-doctored country compared to European levels so anything that expands the training is desirable and a number of us have been hoping for this expansion for some time.
“We would obviously hope to benefit then from a greater number of consultants and become a much stronger medical work force throughout our hospitals.
“The NHS has always been dependant on foreign doctors to an extent. We’ve got about a third of our doctors who did their initial medical training abroad.
“There is an absolute shortage, particularly in A&E departments, radiology, intensive care. We have deliberately gone abroad to try and recruit doctors to staff A&E.
“But largely we try and recruit doctors who, although they may have done their initial training abroad, are in the UK.”
Jeremy Hunt has also said that to avoid people training in Britain and then working abroad, trainee doctors will have to work in the NHS for four years before they can accept overseas postings.
Ms Acott was dubious about the success of this measure, adding: “It’s an interesting idea but I would think that there would be some quite difficult practicalities in that.
“Doctors go abroad to develop their training, experience different health systems and techniques. The last two doctors I employed had done fellowships in Australia and Canada.
“If doctors are getting degrees like everybody else they would expect the same freedoms as teachers and dentists and lawyers and other professional groups.”