The BMA recommends the following measures to improve recruitment.
Increase opportunities for flexible careers
Efforts to support flexible working could make a significant impact on recruitment. These could include:
- more flexibility in part-time medical roles, with a wider range of options for part-time working
- e-rostering and addressing systemic issues to ensure trainees have advance notice of their shifts
- greater flexibility around shift patterns for LTFT trainees with caring responsibilities
- more affordable and flexible childcare
- shared parental and carers' leave
- a more flexible approach to part-time working at every career stage, including consultant level.
Improve health and wellbeing services
Improving trainees' health and wellbeing should be prioritised. The BMA recommends:
- a fully functional and resourced occupational health service be provided for NHS staff
- new efforts be made to raise awareness of health and wellbeing services.
Tackle rota gaps
Anecdotal evidence suggests that many trusts are underestimating the effects of rota gaps.
The BMA is working with junior doctors to investigate the impact of rota gaps on their working lives and identify ways to mitigate the worst pressures.
Address geographic variation in medical recruitment
Further research into how doctors choose their career paths, such as the BMA's recent survey on career choices, can help identify which incentives for this will most appeal to doctors.
Investments must be made to ensure high quality training placemements are provided consistently across geographical areas.
Maintain the NHS' ability to recruit from overseas
With EU nationals making up nearly 7% of the UK medical workforce, it's clear that the NHS will continue to rely on overseas recruitment, from the EU and elsewhere, in the short to medium term.
The BMA has called for:
- permanent residence for all EU doctors currently living and working in the UK
- EEA medical students currently studying in the UK to be given sufficient stay to allow them to complete their course and continue to foundation training and training posts
- any future immigration system to be flexible enough to allow for recruitment of overseas doctors where the NHS cannot fill posts with qualified UK nationals.
Read more about our work on EU doctors and Brexit
Improve workforce planning
The BMA has long advocated for substantive workforce planning at a national level.
Despite this, workforce planning has been devolved to Health Education England's regional structures, risking making planning even more difficult in the future.
A longer-term strategy for a flexible and sustainable workforce that is valued and treated fairly is urgently needed.