Last month, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens announced plans to recruit 2,000 GPs from overseas and the EU by 2020.
NHS England today said that it wants to recruit around 600 of these doctors into general practice in 11 areas of the country by April next year (see list below). The move follows successful pilots in Lincolnshire, Essex and Cumbria, NHS England said.
The scheme was announced as official NHS figures showed that the number of full-time equivalent GPs working in general practice rose by less than 1% in the three months between March and June this year.
NHS England said a GP International Recruitment Office will be set up to organise and run the programme, which will also involve providing support for doctors who relocate.
Recruitment will initially focus on doctors in the EEA whose GP training is recognised in the UK and can automatically join the GMC’s GP register.
As part of the programme the RCGP and the GMC will review the training and assessment processes for GPs trained outside the EEA, starting with Australia. NHS England said that this could help to ‘streamline the GP registration process for those doctors whose training is seen as equivalent to the UK GP programme’.
RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard 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 1m patients every day. Indeed, thousands of GPs from overseas already work alongside UK GPs, and we are incredibly grateful for their skills and expertise.
‘NHS England's GP Forward View has always included introducing 500 appropriately-trained and qualified GPs from overseas into our GP workforce – if NHS England is confident that there is appetite to extend this scheme further, then we welcome this aspiration and will do all we can to support it to recruit and safely welcome new GPs to the profession.’
GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey 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. It is disappointing that once again the latest official figures show only a marginal increase in the GP workforce in England despite repeated promises by politicians that patients would be seeing thousands more GPs trained in the UK delivering care in the NHS.’
NHS England director of primary care Dr Arvind Madan 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.’
The 11 areas to benefit from international recruitment in 2017/18
- Humber Coast and Vale
- North East
- Middleton, Heywood and Rochdale
- Mid Nottinghamshire (Mansfield and Newark)
- Cambridgeshire and Peterborough
- Norfolk and Suffolk
- Birmingham and Solihull
- Kent and Medway
- South East London
- North East London