This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

pulse june2020 80x101px
Read the latest issue online

GPs go forth

Migration body blocks attempts to solve GP shortage problems through recruiting from abroad

A migration advisory group has blocked attempts to include general practice on a list of professions to be preferentially recruited from abroad, claiming that plans already in place to incentivise medical students to become GPs would address current shortfalls.

GPs were not included in the recommended additions to Shortage Occupation List (SOL) – which recommends areas where migration from outside the European Economic Area could address skill shortages – after a review by an advisory committee published today.

Evidence from the DH suggested that GP shortages were partly due to medical students passing over general practice to seek ‘more exciting roles’ in the NHS, as well as regional working preferences and changes to the working patterns of the current GP workforce.

Pulse recently revealed that the number of applications for GP training places nationwide had fallen for the second year in a row, and last year 12% of available GP training places remained unfilled.

Pulse also revealed that NHS England was already taking out adverts in Australian medical journals in a bid to entice back GPs who had emigrated.

But the report by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) states that there is no shortage of medical students, and that the DH has already initiated a plan to incentivise medical students to opt for GP training – as part of a raft of measures for addressing GP recruitment and retention announced last month.

It adds that including GPs on the SOL list would depend on the outcome of these initiatives.

The report says: ‘For GPs, there is a long-term issue caused by three separate factors. First, a failure to attract sufficient trainees: the Department of Health (DH) told us that medical graduates seek more exciting roles in the healthcare system. Second, difficulties attracting GPs to some geographic areas of the UK, especially as the present stock retire. Third, work-life balance issues caused by the increased feminisation of the workforce and the shift towards salaried rather than partner GP positions.

‘DH have identified a requirement of 3,280 GP trainees per year. Presently they are falling short by some 400. We were not told of any overall shortage of students flowing through our medical schools. Therefore any shortage of GPs can be addressed by changing the incentive structure such that the GP route becomes more attractive relative to the hospital consultant route.

‘The DH has initiated such a plan. Therefore, rather than immediately putting GPs on the SOL, we suggest waiting and evaluating the success of this DH initiative.’

Commenting on the decision, RCGP chair Dr Maureen Baker said: ‘We are pleased that the Migration Access Committee has drawn attention to the chronic shortage of family doctors in the UK, but we are disappointed at its lack of action to rectify the problem by unlocking the potential of skilled medical professionals in the many countries that have similar health systems to ours.’

Chair of the MAC, Professor Sir David Metcalf, said: ‘We recognise that there is a shortfall in the numbers of GPs being trained but consider that the solution to this is in the hands of the health service.’

Please note - this article originally stated that the DH had blocked attempts to include GPs on the Shortage Occupation List. This was not the case. The article was changed at 11:15 on 26 February 2015.

Pulse GP Jobs

Readers' comments (54)

  • Took Early Retirement

    I cannot think of appropriate words to describe this. "Risible" is too easy. I am glad, however, that they will not be trying to pinch doctors from the Third World like they did with nurses a few years ago- and possibly still are doing.

    No students will be fooled into becoming GPs unless there is a massive pay hike, amongst other things.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Took Early Retirement

    Oh, and Dr baker has come out with the usual twaddle: where are these countries? Aus, NZ and Canada I guess. Who is going to leave there to come to this festering dung-heap?

    General Practice has become a Cesspit. Like us on Facebook- please.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    Partner age 54 gone, partner aged 53 notice given, partner aged 58 notice given. There's another 6000 without a GP! I will hand the practice contract back if I cannot recruit partners. The amount of shit to shovel us not affordable by paying a salaried number of staff to do it it's all untenable. I've had enough and am clinging on becasue of my wonderful partners, I'm too young to afford to go part time, too old for Canada.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Can GP's be recruited from countries abroad outside of those with a reciprocal agreement regarding training (ie. OZ/ NZ/ Can)???

    If recruiting outside these nations it is my understanding that doctors will have to retrain?

    PS John Glasspool I love your comments. Brutally honest but told like it is!! keep up the good work sir!!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • DoH is stumbling along in the dark and our RCGP head is wearing dark glasses while she lovingly protests with a smile. General Practice is Fished to the core at this rate....Goodbye UK looming!!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • 2 points:Firstly there is no crisis and secondly the British public does not want foreign doctors.Train and retain your own.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • 54 and resigned, having had enough of the bullying micro-management, politicians creating impossible expectations, the assumption we are all useless or criminal unless proven otherwise, and last but not least Appraisal and Revalidation.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Time to worsen the Crisis. Yes, they may be med students but if we train them as GPs we are doing the profession a disservice. Stop training. Make us an even more scarce resource. Resign and form Chambers to take back control and do private general practice. In my practice I have tried skill mix and it's beyond the capacity of even the best nurse practitioners to manage complex problems. Let the government deal with the mess of procuring a service to continue this free at the point of use crap. And sod our affinity to the NHS. I owe the NHS NOTHING.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I do not understand why everyone finds this so wrong. Surely we should be training our own GPs and not pinching them form other countries. It looks like good news to me that young uk graduates will be incentivised to enter GP.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I agree with 8:10 - encouraging people from other countries will just mean another reason not to sort out the underlying problem.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

View results 10 results per page20 results per page50 results per page

Have your say