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Renewed drive to recruit overseas GPs to UK

Plan to bring 600 overseas GPs to UK in 2017-18

Adrian O'Dowd

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Around 600 GPs from overseas will be recruited to work in the UK during this financial year (2017-18) as part of plans to recruit at least 2,000 doctors over the next three years, according to NHS England.

NHS England has announced that it is accelerating and expanding its international recruitment programme following a series of regional pilots.

Working with partners, it will start to recruit around 600 overseas doctors into general practice by April of next year and aim for a total of at least 2,000 doctors over the next three years.

This ambition compares to the initial target of 500 doctors by 2020-21.

NHS England said it was establishing a GP International Recruitment Office soon to organise and run the scaled-up programme operation.

This office will coordinate the recruitment, support for, and relocation of recruited doctors, working closely with regional and local colleagues and partner organisations.

The expanded international recruitment scheme will initially focus on doctors in the European Economic Area (EEA), whose GP training is recognised in the UK under European law and already get automatic recognition to join the GMC’s GP Register.

Overseas GPs recruited as part of the programme will be supported with dedicated training programmes about general practice in England.

They will also receive support to help with language requirements and to meet the standards of the national Induction and Refresher (I&R) Scheme, and be offered help with relocation for themselves and their families.

To smooth the process for overseas doctors, NHS England said it would increase the amount of activity that could be done in the source country, such as applications, completing assessments, and initial orientation, while NHS England would become the proxy employer for visa sponsorship purposes, to remove the burden from local practices to negotiate with the Home Office.

The RCGP and the GMC have been asked to review the curriculum, training and assessment processes for GPs trained outside the EEA, to identify whether the GP registration process for those doctors whose training was seen as equivalent to the UK GP programme can be streamlined.

Dr Arvind Madan, NHS England director of primary care, said: “Most new GPs will continue to be trained in this country, and general practice will benefit from the 25% increase in medical school places over the coming years.

“But the NHS has a proud history of ethically employing international medical professionals, with one in five GPs currently coming from overseas. This scheme will deliver new recruits to help improve services for patients and reduce some of the pressure on hard working GPs across the country.”

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, RCGP chair, said: “We welcome any GP from the EU or further afield who wants to work in UK general practice – as long as they meet the rigorous standards set by the college, GMC and others to ensure safe clinical practice – to contribute to delivering care to over 1 million patients every day.”

Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chair, said: “Plans to recruit more doctors from overseas may help to provide much needed GPs in the short term. These professionals have a strong track record of providing first rate care to patients in the NHS over many decades.

“However, more needs to be done by the government to create a sustainable, long-term basis on which to remedy the huge workforce problems threatening to overwhelm GP services across the country.”

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