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Independents' Day

GPs should pay off costs of medical training before moving abroad, says MP

GPs should be obliged to work in the NHS for a period of time after training, or pay off their training costs before moving abroad to work, an MP has claimed.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph today, Tom Tugendhat, the Conservative MP for Tonbridge, Edenbridge and Malling, suggests introducing a ‘return of service’ obligation for medical staff, similar to that of army personnel.

Pulse reported earlier this year that 800 GPs are applying for work abroad each year.

Mr Tugendhat, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, says it is ‘time for us to require those trained at the British people’s expense to work a number of years in the NHS before working abroad’.

The MP claims that it costs £500,000 to train a GP, and these costs ‘aren’t remotely covered by the tuition fees they pay as undergraduates’.

He adds: ‘We spend £5bn a year on training new medical personnel. Yet an increasing amount of that money is going overseas. Every year some 5,000 doctors leave the UK. The most popular destinations are Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

‘These are wealthy countries benefiting from British taxpayers’ expenditure. It is hard to argue this is the best use of resources when our own population is ageing and in need of greater investment in medical services.’

Mr Tugendhat likens this to the Armed Forces’ ‘return of service’ commitment, which sees fighter pilots, for example, having to serve 12 years in the RAF before joining the commercial sector.

It comes after media reports that there were almost 1,700 applications to the GMC for Certificates of Current Professional Status (CCPS), which allow doctors to work abroad, within just three weeks of the announcement of the junior doctor contract imposition.  

However, Pulse can reveal that much of this surge came following a campaign by the GP Survival group for doctors to apply for the certificates to send a message to the Department of Health.

Readers' comments (43)

  • @2:06pm

    This is what really gets my back up. I'm sure the actual figure is enormous if you include all the money spent on universities, training subsidies to hospitals, consultants, training programme directors etc etc. You could also add in salary and the figure probably won't be far off £500k

    But when you look at what you get in return for that investment it seems like such a bargain. As everyone keeps saying - we do work whilst we train.

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  • @2:06
    The (approximate) £500,000 figure is from the BMA website but it includes around £120,000 borne by the student themselves (for tuition fees and living costs). The cost of training a consultant is more.

    I believe the suggestion is that the medic bears the cost of their own training. So overseas medics pay back their own countries the amount it cost to train them and UK medics pay back the UK taxpayer the subsidy they receive for their training. That way taxpayers in all countries don't lose out when their staff decide to flounce off for more pay abroad.

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  • Public and politicians need to consider why the terms and conditions of their healthcare workers are so inferior. One of the causes is the UK is not properly funding healthcare and managing it poorly.

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  • @2:42pm

    So we pay off our debts as we leave the country, and immigrants pay off theirs as they enter the country.
    Recruitment crisis worsens, soon there will be incentives to come to the UK because so many are leaving, incentives like having your tuition fees repaid (like teachers get) and then before you know it we're back where we started.

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  • agree

    then watch as we all go private and recoup training fees by charging £300 an hour (equivalent to barrister's fees). Politicians should start saving up as we will charge them more.

    if the fees sound to high - google some private practices and take a look.

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  • That'll help recruitment!!

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  • If only the government had made the GP job attractive, in all respects, we wouldn't be having these discussions on recruitment and retention crisis. Why can't those in power figure out this simple fact?

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  • Why can't those in power figure out this simple fact?

    - because they delude themselves.

    Had a meeting with senior NHSE bigwigs and the comment when I raised GP recruitment issues was -
    'its all cyclical - there is no real issue'.
    I then explained I was a former GP who quit permanently and there was no response.

    It is very scary meeting NHSE types, they all say the same catch phrases.

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  • Anonymous | Other healthcare professional | 23 September 2015 1:54pm

    You are sadly mistaken if £9000/year is enough to cover costs of English degree. Almost (if not all) all university degrees are subsidized to a degree. Admittedly some courses more than the other but what about others which requires expensive environment e.g. molecular physics, law, etc. Before such statement can be made, if one is being fair, analysis of all university courses and their contribution to the society should be made and then a cut off line should be drawn below which graduates are expected to repay their debts to the society.

    But this hasn't been done and the MP made a knee jerk reaction singling out the easiest target. Sadly, It's obviously winning the votes of simpletons like you.

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  • Make the job attractive with proper pay and conditions and maybe everyone wouldn't leave - but that's far too simple....

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