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Irish embark on recruitment drive for UK GPs

GPs disillusioned with their career prospects in the UK are being targeted in a major recruitment drive by the Irish government.

The Irish Health Service Executive is to launch a campaign in the GP press about the opportunities over the Irish Sea in a bid to tempt British GPs to move westward.

The Irish Government hopes to recruit up to 180 new GPs to halt an impending recruitment crisis, with record numbers of GPs nearing retirement, and help staff a network of primary care health centres planned to open over the next few years.

Dr Joe Clarke, GP advisor to the Irish Health Service Executive and a GP in County Meath, Ireland, said primary care was still developing in Ireland but still offered great opportunities for British GPs.

‘There would be less in the line of red-tape and bureaucracy, as I understand from my colleagues in the UK. This is a great opportunity for a GP with an entrepreneurial spirit to build up a viable practice,' he said.

The move comes at an opportune time, with Pulse revealing last week that record slumps in practice profits proving painful for UK practices, with many resorting to staff cuts and renegotiating salaried GP contracts to plug the financial hole.

Dr Clarke said the plans for new primary care centres would not involve any threat from the private sector: ‘These are different to the polyclinics along the Darzi model, it would be just primary care centres where there would be a GP, physiotherapist and occupational therapist etc. It would be GP-led,' he said.

Dr Ursula Keegan, a GP at a training practice in Donegal and chair of the curriculum committee at the Irish College of General Practice, said job prospects for newly trained GPs were good, with partnership opportunities available.

‘We don't know what will happen over the next few years, but our conditions have been very good, with a number of GP co-operatives starting and out of hours work improving,' she said.

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