HC Deb 13 February 1968 vol 758 cc1118-9
9. Mrs. Renée Short

asked the Minister of Health how many doctors who left Great Britain to work in the United States of America are now expected to return in 1968 as the result of his Department's efforts; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. K. Robinson

Of the 100 or so doctors interviewed recently in North America who evidently wished to return home, I expect that a least 50 will succeed in doing so this year and a substantial proportion of these will come from the United States. My Department, which is doing what it can to help doctors overseas to overcome the handicap they suffer in obtaining posts from a long distance, regularly receives enquiries from those thinking of returning, but I cannot say how many of these will return in 1968.

Mrs. Short

I thank my right hon. Friend for the efforts which he has made and for the results which are obviously forthcoming. Will he continue to press on these lines and also publicise to doctors who may be on the verge of thinking of going to the United States the fact that it is not Eldorado?

Mr. Robinson

The report of the interviewing board was published in the medical Press, and, I think, by and large, it bore out what my hon. Friend has just said.

Mr. Maurice Macmillan

Can the Minister give any information about the type of work or positions to which doctors are returning compared with salaries and conditions in the United States and what they were doing before they went there?

Mr. Robinson

No, I do not think so, because there is a variety of posts to which they have returned. But it would be true to say that, in general, as we all know, salaries are considerably higher in the United States. There happen to be other attractions in working in the National Health Service in Britain.

Mr. Rankin

As the figures given by my right hon. Friend apply, I assume, to Great Britain, can he say how many return to Scotland?

Mr. Robinson

Not without notice.

Mr. John Hall

Is there any estimate of the number of doctors leaving this country, and can the right hon. Gentleman say what percentage of that figure those who have returned represent?

Mr. Robinson

The best estimate which we have of the number of doctors on average who emigrate each year is 300. All that we are dealing with in this Question is an exercise which I mounted in North America. I am having at least a trickle of letters from doctors in Australia who are similarly anxious to return home.

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