NHSE working with 11 areas to expand international GP recruitment efforts

NHS England has today announced a new plan to boost the struggling GP workforce by expanding its international recruitment efforts.

Following a number of regional pilots, NHS England will work with partners to recruit around 600 overseas doctors into general practice in 2017-18, and increase this to 2,000 doctors over the next three years.

And now the organisation has called on recruitment firms to join a framework to support the programme, with the publication of a tender on the Official Journal of the European Union.

A GP International Recruitment Office is also to be set up to run the programme’s operation. It will co-ordinate the recruitment, support for, and relocation of recruited doctors by working closely with regional and local colleagues as well as partner organisations.

Initially, the international scheme will focus on doctors in the European Economic Area (EEA), whose training is recognised in the UK under European law, meaning doctors get automatic recognition to join the GMC’s GP register.

The next steps for the programme will see the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and GMC reviewing the curriculum, training and assessment processes for GPs outside the EEA, beginning with Australia, to work out where the NHS can streamline the GP registration process.

Though the next several years will see a 25% increase into medical schools in England, it will be years before this expanded pipeline of UK doctors are available to go into general practice, so looking to expand international recruitment is NHS England’s short-term solution to buoy the depleting GP workforce.

A number of regional pilots have already taken place, with Lincolnshire, the most advanced scheme, taking on 26 GPs against a target of 25, while Essex and Cumbria’s pilots are underway. The pilot scheme will also be expanded to 11 other areas in England. The full list of phase two areas is listed at the end of the article.

“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,” said Dr Arvind Madan, GP and NHS England director of Primary Care.

“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.”

And Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the RCGP, said she welcomed 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 one million patients every day.

“Indeed, thousands of GPs from overseas already work alongside UK GPs, and we are incredibly grateful for their skills and expertise,” she added.

“We need the pledges in NHS England’s GP Forward View, including £2.4bn extra a year for general practice and 5,000 more full-time equivalent GPs by 2020, delivered as a matter of urgency so that we can continue to keep our patients safe now and for years to come – we hope this scheme goes a long way to achieving this, and look forward to working with NHS England and others to make it a success.”

Phase 2 areas. NHS England is currently working with these areas to finalise recruitment plans for 2017-18:

  • Humber Coast and Vale
  • North East
  • Middleton, Heywood and Rochdale
  • Staffordshire
  • Mid Nottinghamshire (Mansfield and Newark)
  • Cambridgeshire and Peterborough
  • Norfolk and Suffolk
  • Birmingham and Solihull
  • Kent and Medway
  • South East London
  • North East London

Top Image: didesign021

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