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Readers’ panel: should doctors have to work in the NHS for a minimum of 4 years after graduation?

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt recently announced that medical graduates will be required to work for at least 4 years in the NHS, to ensure the taxpayer gets value from the £220,000 it costs to train each one. Nursing Standard readers’ panellists have their say

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt recently announced that medical graduates will be required to work for at least 4 years in the NHS, to ensure the taxpayer gets value from the £220,000 it costs to train each one. Nursing Standard readers’ panellists have their say


Rachel Kent is a mental health nurse at Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust in London 

Rachel Kent

As a nurse who benefitted from the bursary, I feel I owe it to the NHS to serve it to the best of my abilities. But if my values were challenged or undermined, and I felt my hard work and commitment were unappreciated, I think I would look for somewhere else to work. Instead of creating a contract that binds doctors to work in the NHS for a minimum of 4 years, why not make the NHS somewhere doctors want to work for their entire career? 


Drew Payne (@drew_london) is a community staff nurse in North London 

Drew Payne Due to the ongoing battle over the new contract, the government has a problematic relationship with junior doctors. I don’t see how this requirement will improve it, or make the profession more attractive to new recruits. How exactly will it work? Will doctors have to pay back the cost of their training if they don’t stay for 4 years? Is this even legal? This seems like another knee-jerk reaction from Jeremy Hunt, which after scrutiny could well be dropped as unworkable. Is this any way to run the NHS?


Jane Scullion (@JaneScullion) is a respiratory nurse consultant at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester

Jane Scullion  A 4-year sign-up after training may seem a good thing for the NHS in terms of return on investment. But training to be a doctor is not gratis, and many will have accrued personal debts from their medical school years. It is only when in foundation and during specialised years that doctors are salaried. Training is also quite long and lifestyle choices can alter over the years. Can we tie people down like this when job satisfaction is currently at its lowest? It seems unlikely.


Lauren Ferrier is a third-year mental health nursing student at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen 

As a newly-qualified nurse I will be looking for three things from my employer: to be valued, supported in my new role and allowed to develop my practice. Being forced into a 4-year contract creates the impression that there is greater opportunity outside of the NHS for newly-qualified doctors, and does not consider their contribution to services as medical undergraduates. Ultimately, the result of this will be an uninspired workforce in an organisation that has no faith in its attraction as an employer.


Readers’ panel members give their views in a personal capacity and do not represent their organisations

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