Hundreds of medical graduates are unemployed because too many posts go to doctors from overseas, it is claimed today.
Professor Graham Winyard blames the Government’s “muddled approach to managing medical immigration”.
Writing in the British Medical Journal, Professor Winyard said: “This has created a large surplus of applicants over available training places, making disappointment for thousands inevitable.”
The drive to bring in overseas doctors began because medical schools were failing to provide enough graduates for the NHS. In 1997, a Government committee advocated a policy aim of being able to rely largely on UK doctors, and called for an expansion of medical school places.
This means the number of graduate doctors is expected to rise by 40 per cent to 7,000 in 2010.
Professor Winyard said the aims of the committee could not be realised because it is illegal to discriminate against doctors on the basis of the country in which they graduated.
Doctors from across Europe also meet the criteria for seeking a job in Britain through the highly skilled migrant programme, he said.
“Investing heavily in expanding our medical schools makes little sense if we cannot enable the extra graduates to pursue a career in medicine,” he added.
Professor Winyard proposed a system where overseas graduates were considered for jobs only after UK and European graduates.
The Health Department said NHS patients should have access to the best doctors possible “no matter where they trained”.