New HEE deal aims to recruit GP trainees from the Caribbean

Hundreds of doctors could join the GP workforce as part of a new programme set up between Health Education England (HEE) and a medical school in the Caribbean.

(Photo: iStock.com/tonefotografia)
(Photo: iStock.com/tonefotografia)

Health education leaders have signed an agreement with St George’s University (SGU) in Grenada to enable its graduates to take up postgraduate training in England, with the first intake expected in autumn 2018.

The agreement, signed last week, is expected to to see 50-100 SGU graduates join the NHS annually. A significant number of these will join  the widening access to speciality training (WAST) initiative, which was set up by the NHS in order to recruit overseas postgraduate doctors and focuses on ensuring they are able to enter GP and psychiatry training programmes.

Most graduates will join a one-year post-graduate foundation clinical course in England, consisting of six months of psychiatry training followed by six months in a hospital setting, after which they can apply for an alternative certificate of foundation competencies and specialty training. The first 16 graduates will begin the programme in the next seven months.

International GP recruitment

HEE chief executive Professor Ian Cumming said: ‘Our role is to ensure the health workforce in England can meet the challenges faced by the NHS, which includes the provision of services in underserved areas. We are very impressed that graduates provided by SGU are of the high standard demanded by the NHS; I look forward to the first intake arriving in 2018.’

SGU president Dr G Richard Olds said: ‘England has one of the most stringent regulatory frameworks in the world, and that our graduates now have this opportunity is reflective of their calibre. We are delighted that this major development has taken place in the 70th anniversary year of the NHS.’

Intakes will happen in February and August each year, and graduates will be assigned a location by HEE. Most programmes are expected to focus on areas of shortage in England, such as the Midlands, Yorkshire and the Humber and South West England.

Workforce shortage

Dr Olds added: ‘One of our central aims is to find ways to train doctors in the areas they are needed most… The global shortage of medical professionals is exacerbated by maldistribution, both by geography and specialty. This agreement, which will encourage our graduates to train in family medicine and psychiatry in areas of England with the greatest need, is one example of how we are making a significant positive impact around the world.’

Earlier this year, former health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt admitted he was ‘struggling’ to deliver on his promise of recruiting 5,000 extra GPs by 2020/21.

Last month, GPonline revealed that just 58 doctors had been signed up to the UK workforce via the NHS international recruitment scheme in two years. The scheme has planned to recruit 2,000 GPs to the workforce in England.

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