Why the number of doctors applying to work abroad jumped dramatically in 24 hours

As junior doctors in England begin their fourth strike, ITV News can reveal the number of medics applying to work abroad has jumped dramatically since the Health Secretary’s decision to impose the contract at the heart of the row.

Applications for a certificate allowing doctors to practice in other countries have increased steadily since the discussion about new terms and conditions began two years ago.

By the beginning of February this year an average of 26 doctors a day were applying.

But on Thursday 11th February - the day Jeremy Hunt announced his decision to force through the contract – that figure jumped to 297, with 106 applications on the following day.

26

average number of doctors applying to work abroad at start of February

297

number of junior doctors who applied to work abroad the day after Hunt's decision

The figures lend weight to claims by the doctors union that medics are deserting the NHS.

The British Medical Association’s junior doctors' leader Johann Malawana said: "By pursuing its current course, the government risks alienating a generation of doctors.

"If it continues to ignore junior doctors' concerns, at a time when their morale is already at rock-bottom, doctors may vote with their feet which will clearly affect the long-term future of the NHS and the care it provides.

"Responsibility for industrial action now lies entirely with the government. They must start listening and resume negotiations on a properly funded junior doctors' contract to protect the future of patient care and the NHS."

Not all doctors who request a Certificate of Current Professional Status end up leaving the country.

And towards the end of last year the British Medical Association encouraged its members to apply as a protest against the government's plans.

But 25-year-old Sam Wootton, a junior doctor in the North East, is one of those planning his exit. He is seeking a job in New Zealand this summer.

“Our contract here is for a 48 hour working week, theirs is just 70 hours across a fortnight," he said.

"The pay is much better, the conditions are better, but most of all you are simply valued much more as an employee there”.

The two other junior doctors he shares a house with have already accepted positions with hospitals in Australia.

Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary. Credit: PA Wire

On Wednesday, the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt refused to answer ITV News' question on junior doctors moving abroad.

In response to our story, the Department of Health - who condemned the strike as "irresponsible" - said:

These figures are not emigration data and do not reflect the number of doctors planning to leaving the UK.

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH