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The waiting game

More foreign GPs are essential to hit 5,000 target, say recruiters

The Government will have to recruit more doctors from overseas if it is to meet its target of employing 5,000 extra GPs by 2020, a major UK recruitment group has warned.

ManpowerGroup Solutions – one of the five biggest recruiters of GPs in the UK – said Prime Minister David Cameron would fall short of his goal to recruit more GPs and make surgeries open seven days a week unless more non-EU doctors could be hired.

The warning comes after Government advisors ruled out putting general practice on the list of professions to be earmarked for preferential recruitment from overseas – effectively blocking the NHS from recruiting GPs from outside Europe.

The Migrant Advisory Committee said there was no shortage of medical students and that Government plans to incentivise them to become GPs would address current shortfalls in the profession - a move described as ‘disappointing’ by the RCGP.

However, ManpowerGroup Solutions UK managing director James Hick said that even if the number of medical graduates doubles, the Government will not be able to meet its target ‘unless urgent action is taken’.

Mr Hick said: ‘David Cameron has pledged to recruit 5,000 new GPs to extend surgery opening hours. That will improve care for millions, but it’s hard to see where those doctors will come from.

‘As a major recruiter of GPs, we see that there are not enough homegrown new clinicians. There’s no simple fix – even if we were to double the number of medical school graduates from British universities, it still wouldn’t solve the problem.’

ManpowerGroup Solutions made its warning after surveying employers about expected workforce demand and supply.

The company also warned that Britain leaving the EU would ‘create a vast amount of uncertainty and instability in the UK economy’, and ‘reduce the flexibility of the UK workforce, with companies less able to attract talent from abroad’.

Professor Maureen Baker, chair of the RCGP, said the Government should reconsider its position on recruitment of non-EU doctors.

Professor Baker said: ‘It was disappointing earlier this year that the Migration Advisory Committee decided not to include family doctors on their list of Shortage Occupation List, and given the severe shortage of GPs across the UK, we hope they reconsider.’

However, she added that ‘we also need to do everything we possibly can to build our home-grown GP workforce’ and that ‘we need to work with government, policymakers and medical schools to “recruit, retain and return” as many family doctors as possible’.

A Department of Health spokesperson said its plans would still rely on increased training and retention of GPs.

The spokesperson said: ‘Our plans to recruit extra GPs don’t rely on increasing foreign doctors, but on increasing training places, boosting retention, and incentivising GPs to return to their profession. The proportion of British staff working in the NHS has increased over the past five years and there are an extra 1,600 GPs since 2010.

‘To improve access to GPs, we have invested £175m in the NHS so they can pilot new ideas, including more appointments between 8am to 8pm, seven days a week and email and Skype consultations.’

Readers' comments (41)

  • The NHS runs on a migrant workforce & without it the cookie would oh so crumble. A continuum.

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  • Make sure they're appraised and revalidated before they start .

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  • They have already failed hundreds of 'overseas' doctors, shall we be seeing a lowering of standards to fulfil recruitment targets?

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  • Hey how about trying to recruit doctors form
    Australia, new Zealand, Canada, usa, Dubai, I hear there's thousands of doctors there who speak English with such a good accent and know the british culture and medical system so well that you would almost believe that they're actually from Britain!!!!

    Oh wait a minute.................

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  • Just make it compulsory for all current GPs to work full-time and there will not be any need for more GPs. If the 5000 new GPs all decide to work part-time, then the Government should effectively bring in 10,000 GPs to address the GP shortage

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  • foreign doctors steer clear of the UK - there is xenophobia. Even though you will have to pass hurdles that many UK trained and UK born doctors will fail you will still be viewed as inferior. There are no advantages in the UK - university fees are high, housing is expensive, cost of living is high. Best go straight to USA, Canada or Australia. If you come over as a junior grade don't expect to make consultant status and if you come over for GP training - well, just read the posts. Those that I know who have come over regret it. I'm born here, went to two of the top universities in the world (in the UK), have MB BS, MRCGP, MSc and i'm still 'the nice foreign doctor'. Money is going down and expenses up. The papers love to paste a picture of a foreign doctor up to mischief which generally adds to the hysteria that if you are non-Caucasian you are dodgy or inferior.

    However, if you are European feel free to come over as you won't have many restrictions and the pay in comparison is better.

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  • @ 9:29
    couldn't agree more; There always has been and always will be a glass ceiling for foreign doctors in UK; The MRCGP exam debacle proves it; all it could have taken was some serious statements from the RCGP when investigating the issue and installing cctv cameras and an extra examiner as other colleges do during examinations but it took a court case for them to look at the issue seriously;

    Take a look at the tens of thousands of overseas doctors stuck in TRUST GRADE/ STAFF GRADE/ ASSOCIATE SPECIALIST roles doing the filthy scut work over the decades and you see that the foreigner is still inferior;

    indian medical schools are adopting a US style curriculum now and most of their graduates will head there as its a merit based system on the whole and not the nudge nudge wink wink old boys network in Stalinist Britain;

    don't waste your time in the UK, there own doctors are leaving in there hundreds as well as others retiring or locuming, especially in primary care;


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  • 9.29+10.10,sadly hear hear.

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  • 9.10 - go on - stop posting anonymously - show us all if you are a real doctor.
    you are a troll sir.

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  • The problem is not so much about bringing in 5000 GPs but trying to maintain a balance so the influx does not fall below exodus levels which seem to be rising rapidly. Being an EU professional myself, I can see an exodus of EU medical workers too which is not surprising considering the increasing NHS woes and the referendum rhetoric.

    @9:29;Venting frustration is fine but 'Britain is finished'?? What the hell are you doing here, 'other healthcare professional'?
    Putting your name would give the post a better perspective indeed, as rightly pointed by Kieran Kelly.

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