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At the heart of general practice since 1960

RCGP chair urges Home Office to add GPs to shortage occupation list

The chair of the RCGP has urged the Home Office to add GPs to the shortage occupation list, making it easier for doctors from overseas to work in general practice in the UK.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the RCGP, wrote to the home secretary Amber Rudd highlighting how the visa processes for GPs from abroad are contributing to a workforce shortage in general practice.

She made the case that recent NHS England plans to expand the international GP recruitment drive to 2,000 doctors will likely cause ‘even more pressure on the visa application system and potentially even longer processing times’.

Professor Stokes-Lampard wrote: ‘It takes at least 10 years to train a GP from the UK (from entering medical school); recruitment strategies will not solve the urgent gaps in our workforce in the short-term, and is unlikely meet longer term needs.

‘With a high number of GPs set to retire in the next few years, the future of general practice is a serious concern. 

‘We need to do everything possible to make the process for GPs entering the UK workforce as simple and straight forward as possible.’ 

Professor Stokes-Lampard added that ‘the need for urgent action on this matter continues to grow’. 

She said: ‘The public’s healthcare needs have continued to grow over the last few years, but recruitment of the general practice workforce has not been sufficient to meet demand.’

She added that reported vacancy rates are ‘probably worse than official estimates’ as vacant posts are filled by locums or not advertised.

A Pulse survey of 860 GPs revealed that 12.2% of all GP positions are currently vacant.

Professions currently on the shortage occupation list include classically trained ballet dancers, animators, and orchestra musicians, as well as radiographers, old age psychiatrists, paramedics and nurses.

At the LMCs conference in May delegates voted in favour of the GPC renewing its push for the Home Office to consider GPs for the shortage occupation list.

Readers' comments (10)

  • RCGP calls to import cheap foreign labour to further undermine UK GPs negotiating position.

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  • RCGP calls on Government to import cheap foreign workers so that the NHS can continue to abuse GPs.

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  • Pay them well.They will come otherwise you will get monkeys.

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  • having spoken to lots of colleagues from around the world the uk is no longer a destination for GPs, just for training to get the MRCGP as a stepping stone to work in autralia, canada, usa or the middle east. where the working conditions are better and you get paid 2-4 times more than the uk. Doctors are not stupid. Once you learn englsih there are better places to earn money in the world. The NHS is seen as excellent for care but low pay, long hours and poor working conditions. This move just won't work, maybe short term but even these GPs will leave. The problem is the working conditions and poor pay. Until you address these then no solution is going to work.

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  • RCGP urges RSPCA to add GPs to endangered species list.

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  • Agree with all the comments above...... there is no rational reason to become a GP anymore..... HSL is loosing significance.....

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  • There is more GPs in England than what is needed. However they are not working due to poor PAY. How can you put GPs in shortage list when there is so much (voluntariy) unemployed GPs?

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  • GP Shortage will continue currently as Work Conditions deteriorate. Emigration post MRCGP is very seductive for young GP's who do not have major financial commitments.2000 imported GPs unlikely to solve workforce shortages. Hunt lacks a plan to reverse this decline.

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  • I don't think any of this will help. Looking last week at Pulse, I see that the "conglomeration" is now openly-stated Policy for NHSEngland. We should plan for no extra GPs and a pyramid of other clinicians working on protocol-based care. Only when the public (or did I mean "voters") squeal, will anything change. This is Britain, and the public don't squeal, so it looks like we are definitely trading quality for volume and that is that. I suspect that some will start paying for Private General Practice and we will massage our guilt by doing "some charity sessions" for the pension and to keep in touch.

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  • I am in ME , I hate it here but I dread going back Ms Lampard . Money is tiny the only issue , over regulation , sillily litigations , heavy taxation, no respect ✊ all these make you want to to go to Antarctica but uk .

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