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NHS England looks to recruit 2,000 GPs from overseas to offset retirements

NHS England is increasing the target for its overseas recruitment programme from 500 to around 2,000.

It is understood this includes GPs from the EU and from other overseas countries, and comes as part of the Government’s pledge to deliver 5,000 more GPs by 2020.

As first revealed by Pulse, the GP Forward View had committed NHS England to recruiting up to 500 GPs from overseas in a bid to help achieve the goal.

The expanded programme, due to launch this autumn, could see GPs targeted from the EU, Australia and New Zealand.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens told HSJ: 'Although there are some good signs of progress on increases in the GP training scheme, nevertheless there are real pressures around retirements.

'The conclusion we’ve come to is that in order to increase the likelihood of being able to have 5,000 more doctors in general practice, we are going to need… a significantly expanded industrial scale international recruitment programme. We intend to launch that in the autumn.'

He added: 'Rather than the current 500 or so GPs that are being targeted for international recruitment…it probably needs to be four times more than that, from international sources - [from the] rest of the EU and possibly New Zealand and Australia.'

NHS England launched a £30m contract tender for companies to bid to help recruit GPs from the EU earlier this month, expanding the programme from an initial £20m budget. The contract runs from 25 September this year for three years until 2020.

GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey told Pulse: 'Clearly they haven’t secured the increase of GPs in line with progress to the 5,000 GP goal, so far. So they’re considering all options.

'This is a dedicated international recruitment initiative, the International GP Recruitment Programme, this is an expansion of that but I don’t know if they’re going to expand the funding as well.

'I think it is a sign that they are serious about trying to address the low number of GPs, and we have to use all means possible to attract and retain them.'

Some 25 GPs from overseas have already been brought over to Lincolnshire as part of NHS England’s pilot scheme. 

The GPs have been guaranteed an annual salary of £90,000 and a ‘generous relocation package’ to move to England to work.

GP practices in Hull have also been invited to express their interest in recruiting EU GPs and Essex announced plans to recruit 20 GPs from from Portugal, Spain, Romania, Czech Republic and Slovakia, in an effort to curb recruitment issues that have plagued the county for several years.

Pulse recently reported that the NHS in Scotland is also looking to recruit GPs from the EU as Dumfries and Galloway enlisted a medical agency to help fill 20 empty posts with EU doctors.

The UK’s decision last summer to leave the EU did cast some doubt over NHS England’s plans – with recruiters warning that the referendum result could put off potential applicants – but NHS England has since confirmed that it was looking to expand the scheme.

The overseas recruitment drive is also at odds with the Government’s plan for the NHS to become less reliant on foreign doctors and in the long term ‘self-sufficient’ in producing medical staff.

Dr Vautrey said: 'They’ve made a commitment to increase medical school placements by 1,500 per year, but it’s going to take a long time to turn those students into doctors. That’s a long-term solution to this problem.

'But we need to look at short-term solutions as well, not least addressing the workload pressure within general practice so we make the job itself more appealing to doctors who have trained within the NHS when they’re making career choices.'

He added that 'applying a sticking plaster by recruiting doctors from abroad can only offer a limited short-term fix, especially when there is uncertainty over freedom of movement following the UK’s exit from the EU'.

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Readers' comments (32)

  • MAYBE IT IS TIME TO STOP "TERRORISING" UK GPs??

    SHOULD THE "POLITICAL VIOLENCE" TOWARDS UK GPs NOW COME TO AN END??

    JEREMY ("DISGRACEFUL") HUNT SHOULD MAKE AN IMMEDIATE AND UNCONDITIONAL APOLOGY FOLLOWED BY AN ASSURANCE THAT HE WILL PERSONALLY BE "DISCPLINING" THE DAILY NUTTER.......THAT WOULD BE A START.

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  • Better make it 2001, coz I have had enough!

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  • So many able kids crying out to do medicine and unable to get into medical school- I know the medical school intake is belatedly being expanded but who was in charge of work force planning /medical school admission numbers 10 years ago. Here are the previous secretaries of state who allowed this to happen.
    Clarke Kenneth Conservative July 1988 - November 1990
    Waldegrave William Conservative November 1990 - April 1992
    Bottomley Virginia Conservative April 1992 - July 1995
    Dorrell Stephen Conservative July 1995-May 1997
    Dobson Frank Labour May 1997- October 1999
    Milburn Alan Labour October 1999 – June 2003
    Reid John Labour June 2003- May 2005
    Hewitt Patricia Labour May 2005- June 2007
    Johnson Alan Labour June 2007- June 2009
    Andy Burnham Labour June 2009 - May 2010
    Andrew Lansley Conservative/coalition May 2010 - September 2012
    Jeremy Hunt Conservative/coalition September 2012 - May 2015
    Jeremy Hunt Conservative May 2015 -

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  • With the possible exception of Stephen Dorrell it now becomes clear why we are in such a mess..

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  • dear all non uk colleagues who want to come and work here.

    the insane vicious and unfair regulation ,massive workload, regular media vitriol,and the parasitic rabid lawyers will ruin your career and possibly much much more

    take your caring doctoring skills and use them where they will be appreciated. which is not England in 2017

    and that goes for trainees too, who despite what the RCGP say should not be led blindly into the appalling mess primary care has become

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  • The best solution is to make the job more appealing.

    Ditch the excessive regulation CQC, pay for indemnity, remove home visits and nursing home care.

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  • And pay for every single patient not every 3rd or fourth because of a demented formula exploited by an immoral NHSE who use it to manipulate 'inconvenient' GP not ready to play ball. Get NHS Fraud to investigate claims of payment fiddling by NHSE instead of having them deal only with cases where NHS as such is being robbed. Stealing from GPs is the worst way of stealing from patients.

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  • The lack of insight both Nhs England and the RCGP have is truly mind blowing.Why would anybody in a sane state of mind want a career in UK general practice??And to all the trainees reading this -all you are being lined up for is a good flogging for the next 40 years-please get out whilst you can.

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  • The Returner scheme in England has mandatory professional examinations, even if you've already passed MRCGP, and this is justified mainly for the purpose of ensuring that EU trained GPs with freedom of travel are up to scratch (and EU law forbids discrimination between UK and EU nationals). The Returner scheme nearly bankrupted me, and yet they're throwing money at recruitment companies trying to attract GPs from Europe, who are apparently going to get support right through the whole process. It's bloody ridiculous.

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  • What if they manage to get 2000 gps?
    Gen practice will be good if we send all our leaders to Australia. All they want not good but very good life by being agents of NHSE. There is no such thing as self respect. Our leaders are bad eggs with no grapes.

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