NHS, 27,400 more than in 1997, as well as record levels of doctors in training in UK medical schools.
"This investment and expansion, coupled with the reform of medical education, is leading to increased competition for medical posts as vacancy rates fall," the minister said.
Declaring that NHS hospitals desiring to recruit doctors from outside the EU would need to obtain work permits, the minister said: "We recognize that international doctors have made a huge contribution to the NHS. However, increasingly the NHS will be less reliant on international medical recruitment."
The department of health said: "Both the needs and the structure of the health service and medical training programmes have changed considerably since this category was introduced, as have the immigration provisions for overseas nationals who want to work in the UK.
"In addition, the number of places in UK medical and dental schools has increased, meaning that there are now more UK graduates seeking relevant training posts.
"There is therefore no longer a need for a specific category in the Immigration Rules to enable doctors and dentists to train in the UK for many years".
The new rules have also been criticized by British doctors.
J.M. Purcell, a senior doctor based in Carlisle, said: "In essence, this means that doctors I have seen invest time, commitment and resources in the NHS stand to lose the opportunity to continue training here with no warning or chance to alter their plans.
"It will mean that doctors who have dedicated themselves to the NHS and begun to study for their UK postgraduate exams who were born in India will be second choice to a Polish doctor who has no experience of the NHS.
"I have profound concerns about this unjust shift which speaks volumes about the unfair way in which the immigration system operates in the UK and the high personal cost this has for individuals".
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