Mental health and psychiatry

International psychiatry recruitment helps NHS meet mental health demand

Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT) has highlighted how an innovative international recruitment programme has helped tackle the rising demand in the mental health sector.

After launching in June 2021, EPUT’s advanced fellowship in psychiatry has helped 33 doctors from a range of countries come to England and progress their careers.

The NHS says the scheme has enabled it to fill vacant positions which would have otherwise been filled by more short-term solutions, like locums.

The move came after EPUT became one of the first mental health trusts to gain approval from the General Medical Council (GMC) to sponsor an overseas recruitment drive for psychiatrists.

Dr Prashanth Peethala

In August 2021, Dr Prashanth Peethala arrived as the first doctor to join under the new scheme.

Dr Peethala, who specialises in old age psychiatry, explained: “Initially it was a bit challenging but what I found was that I was very lucky because the people around me were very supportive and I got to learn a lot more than I imagined I would learn.”

Once recruited from the scheme, staff are encouraged to complete further training, including towards becoming a consultant.

EPUT says they also benefit from pastoral support to help them acclimatise to their new country and health system.

Dr Abdul Raoof, medical education director at EPUT, leads the initiative with Dr Kallur Suresh, deputy medical director for West Essex Care Unit.

Dr Abdul Raoof (left) and Dr Kallur Suresh (right)

“They are already highly qualified doctors so once they are settled in at EPUT, they make a massive difference to service provision,” said Dr Raoof.

He added: “When we were approved as a sponsor by the GMC, there weren't many mental health trusts approved as sponsors. That has increased now, and many local trusts have contacted me about how to become a sponsor and have asked for advice on how we set up the programme.”

Professionals have been recruited from countries such as Pakistan, Nigeria, Nepal, Sudan, India, and Egypt.

EPUT’s associate director of HR – medical, Freya Whiting, said: “We hope to develop this programme and provide learning opportunities for our fellows and take forward any learning and development into the wider workforce."

Image credit: iStock

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NHE May/June 2024

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