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Tuesday, 2 July, 2002, 02:19 GMT 03:19 UK
Milburn defends NHS reforms
Operating theatre
New surgeons will be recruited to bolster NHS
Plans to recruit surgeons from abroad to bolster the NHS are to be defended by Health Secretary Alan Milburn.

He will tell an audience on Tuesday of the government's determination to push ahead with NHS reforms.


Our foot should be on the accelerator not, as some would argue, the brake

Health Secretary Alan Milburn

And the health secretary will restate the merits of freeing successful hospitals from Whitehall control, in a speech to a human resources conference, in Birmingham.

His comments come after his announcement last week on recruitment plans provoked an angry response from within the health sector as well as a heated political debate.

But Mr Milburn will describe these concerns and resistance as "surprising."

"Everyone knows the NHS needs more doctors," he is expected to say.

"Reform is central to the renewal of the NHS and our foot should be on the accelerator not, as some would argue, the brake.

"What we cannot have and what I will not accept is anyone having a right of veto on NHS patients getting the extra doctors they need.

Candidate list

The Department of Health's overseas doctors recruitment drive - headed by former heart surgeon Sir Magdi Yacoub - has reportedly identified 500 doctors suitable for employment in the NHS.

Around 100 are being matched with NHS hospital trusts, according to the Times newspaper.

The health workers' union Unison, has warned that proposals to recruit from abroad would undermine the NHS as a public sector provider.

Meanwhle opposition politicians have castigated the plans.

Shadow Health Secretary Dr Liam Fox has said that the proposals indicated the government's failure to recruit and retain staff in the UK.

Dr Evan Harris MP, Liberal Democrat health spokesman, has said Labour was trying to find solution for under-capacity caused over five years of underinvestment.

The Royal College of Nursing and the British Medical Association are among those within the medical profession who have also expressed their concerns.

In his speech Mr Milburn is also likely to outline the merits of plans to give hospitals which achieve the top three-star rating in league tables complete freedom to decide how they work.

See also:

25 Jun 02 | Health
18 Apr 02 | Health
28 Jun 02 | Health
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