latest health care news

01.09.17

NHS England offers agencies £100m for overseas GP recruitment effort

NHS England is planning on paying agencies £100m to help with the recruitment of around 5,000 additional GPs before April 2020, half of which are expected to come from overseas.

In a contract tender, the organisation revealed it is prepared to pay a maximum of eight agencies to support its major recruitment drive, which forms part of commitments announced in the GP Forward View.

The Five Year Forward View aims to deliver 5,000 new doctors by 2020, and a key part of the GP Forward View is to recruit a proportion of these from overseas starting from autumn this year.

The tender has now confirmed that between 2,000 and 3,000 of those new doctors may be recruited from overseas, although this is an approximate number that is subject to change.

Via the £100m contract, the agencies will be required to deliver comprehensive recruitment services alongside non-clinical training and relocation services. Bids from single organisations, consortia and special purpose vehicles are all permitted.

Interested parties have until 22 September to apply.

Dr Steve Mowle, honorary treasurer for the Royal College of GPs, said the plan to hire thousands of doctors from overseas “is a bold step, which if successful will make a real difference in reaching this target”.

“Ultimately, we need all pledges made in the GP Forward View – including £2.4bn extra a year for general practice, 5,000 more GPs, and 5,000 more members of the practice team – to be delivered in full and as a matter of urgency,” he added.

“We are also calling for GPs to be added to the Migration Advisory Committee’s shortage occupation list, to make it easier for family doctors from overseas who want to live here and work in UK general practice to do so.”

And Gus Tugendhat, head of Tussell, a company that compiles data of public procurement, told the Financial Times that the contracts formed the biggest-ever NHS tender for international hiring since October 2014 – and were symptomatic of the government’s policymaking challenges in a post-Brexit world.

“There is an inherent conflict between the need to hire international staff in order to maintain public services and the Brexit-related agenda of reducing immigration,” he told the paper.

But Dr Arvind Madan, NHS England’s primary care director, played down these suggestions, arguing that the health service “has a proud history of ethically employing international medical professionals, with one in five GPs currently coming from overseas”.

(Top image c. sturti)

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