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A faulty production line

CCGs halving targets of 'extremely disappointing' international GP scheme

CCGs have been forced to cut international recruitment targets because they have been unable to recruit enough overseas GPs, Pulse has learned.

At least three of the 11 CCGs taking part in the international GP recruitment scheme pilot areas have halved their targets, which they deemed ‘overly ambitious’. 

This comes as NHS England admitted just over 70 GPs - only 50 of which are in the country - have been recruited so far.

The GP Forward View committed to recruiting more than 500 GPs from overseas by 2020, as part of its plan to add an extra 5,000 GPs to the workforce. The target for overseas recruitment scheme was then uplifted to around 2,000.

GP leaders have called the situation 'extremely disappointing', and argued the requirements for recruitment have put many GPs off applying.

According to CCG board papers, many areas are now drastically cutting targets, in an attempt to meet them, while others are simply reporting low uptake and slow progress. These include:

  • NHS Wyre CCG board papers from October show the scheme ’saw a reduction in local target from 50 to 23, based on NHS advice, as the scheme is not delivering as anticipated’
  • NHS Birmingham and Solihul CCG board papers show it successfully bid £3.6m to recruit 100 GPs. But in May 2018, NHS England adjusted this target to ‘realistic 48 recruits’. As of February 2019, the CCG said three GPs have been recruited
  • NHS Great Yarmouth and Waverney CCG said in August NHS England 'revised the International GP Recruitment allocation which has been reduced to 41 GPs. This has left a gap of 39 GPs to find through other schemes'
  • NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk CCG said in September that it acknowledged the trajectory for international recruitment was 'overly ambitious' and reported that 'based on the initial performance, the target was revised down 40 starts over two years across the STP'
  • NHS Rushcliffe CCG board papers from November showed that although the scheme was heavily oversubscribed, progress was slow and to date there are currently no GPs working in Nottinghamshire, as a result of the international recruitment scheme

But despite the poor levels of uptake, the new five-year GP contract, published last week, announced the international recruitment programme will be extended until 2023/24 ‘to help deliver against the extra 5,000 doctors in general practice’.

The scheme, which was first introduced in Lincolnshire to address the local recruitment crisis, was rolled out in 11 other areas by NHS England: Humber Coast and Vale, North East, Middleton, Heywood and Rochdale, Staffordshire, Mid Nottinghamshire (Mansfield and Newark), Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Norfolk and Suffolk, Birmingham and Solihull, Kent and Medway, South East London, North East London.

So far, Lincolshire has seen the most advanced scheme, recruiting 26 international GPs against a target of 25.

Lincolnshire LMC medical director Dr Kieran Sharrock said: 'We managed to recruit more very quickly because we made a very good offer. These were doctors who knew they would need support passing the induction and refresher scheme and they also knew they would need support with passing their language skills and because the offer we made gave them both education and training, it was very attractive.'

But Dr Sharrock said he is not surprised CCGs are halving targets, arguing it 'hasn’t successfully recruited enough doctors' due to language requirements being too high, and labelling the recruitment model 'not appropriate'.

'To come and work in the UK, doctors in Europe need to have an IELTS level to 7 to 7,5. There are only a few doctors out there who already have that level, which is why we said we’re going to find doctors who have an IELTS level of 5 or 6 and train them up to 7.5.

'That opens the market up significantly because you’re going to find a lot more doctors who are able to apply,' he said. 

BMA GP Committee workforce lead Dr Helena McKeown said: 'I think it’s extremely disappointing.'

'It’s the same as the calls to say we would have 5,000 more GPs in general, which was a very ambitious target. I think it’s all about the workload. We need to address the workload then people would want to be GPs in England,' she added.

An NHS England spokesperson said: 'NHS England has now recruited more than 70 doctors to the programme and, of these, over 50 are in the country either seeing patients or in observer placements and last week we launched a recruitment campaign in Australia.'

'NHS England has not set local targets but is actively supporting international recruitment,' they added.

NHS England announced plans last year to make it easier for Australian GPs to work in the UK.

Last week, NHS England launched a social media campaign, which called on Australian GPs to come and work in ‘land of’ Harry Potter.

Ealier this year, Pulse revealed health secretary Matt Hancock has not set a new date for when the Government should meet its target of adding 5,000 more GPs in the workforce, admitting it will be 'slower than was originally envisaged'.

Readers' comments (21)

  • The job inst attractive in the UK, the pressures, 10 minute consulations, the liabilities,the quality of housing,the work life balance, the renumeration,the constant threat of manslaughter charges when you are scapegoated for systematic failings,need I go on.It looks like the GP 'leaders''see no ships' when it comes to the armada sailing towards it.Look at the job first, make it attractive it will attract candidates.Sadly the new contract will not do that.

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  • Will be very interesting to know how many of these poor blighters are still working here in five years time.

    Still, at least a few CCG managers got a nice trip abroad to help with their morale, poor loves.

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  • I believe doctors from some 27 countries will not be particularly interested in coming now...

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  • Took Early Retirement

    Ha, Ha, Ha.....clunk.

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  • Its cos Brexit

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  • AlanAlmond

    it's f&£k all to do with brexit, its because the job is shite ..unless you don't want brexit, in which case everything that's crap anywhere is caused by brexit. australia doesn't rely on promises of economic and political union in order to secure international medical recruitment targets . brits have flooded to australia because it's a nice place to be and the working conditions are better. FFS there's more going on in the world that the european union and brexit ..if the job was worth doing we'd have no problem recruiting candidates...that's the issue here, claiming other causes is frankly insulting ..enough with the boring brexit axe grinding , i think the entire country is more than a little board with brexit bull shit

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  • Too many people blaming the country's' problems on Brexit.

    At the end of the day the UK is a tiny little island with little to no natural resources, cramp living space and no real prospect of future development compared to countries like Canada, Australia, China, Costa Rica....

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  • NHSE puzzled as to why they cant fill crap jobs with poor pay in shit-holes. truely an enigma

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  • lol wm, that's what you get with state run socialist policies..... anyone who knows anything about history knows governments tend to do things badly, and the bigger the government....

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  • Anyone surprised? I wouldn’t come to this dungheap from abroad.

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  • There are just too may jeopardies. When you have a failing system you need to support it in all ways you can. These need not necessarily be financial. The previous behaviour of the CQC has a lot to answer for and the GMC have been appalling. It is as if they have no regard for the overall consequences of their over zealous approach. It is no good improving care and professionalism if by doing it you destroy the very thing you are trying to protect.
    So obvious.

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  • Because everyone thinks GPs are stupid they thought that overseas recruitment would be easy. What they forgot is that the top performers in school get into medicine in the first place. Trying to bribe them to work in a rubbish work environment is pathetic.

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  • Those 50 GPs will soon see the light, feel the pressure and bugger off. Back to square one .

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  • The main aim is to actually pretend to do something while the CCG staff gets paid to come up with more blue sky thinking sitting in endless meetings. Increase take home pay and conditions and there is no need for more useless creativity.

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  • That's not 'targets' that were reduced, that is 'failure to achieve targets, so lets manipulate the data to avoid us looking bad , and cut the services instead' to save money!
    I never liked the idea anyway, as UK-trained GPs are better at the job in the NHS than those who have not been trained in the job, and, sadly, do not know how NHS works, as many overseas graduates don;t.
    To recruit trainees might be better?
    Unfortunately, the job is so unattractive that retention would be still am ajor problem.

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  • ''To come and work in the UK, doctors in Europe need to have an IELTS level to 7 to 7,5. There are only a few doctors out there who already have that level, which is why we said we’re going to find doctors who have an IELTS level of 5 or 6 and train them up to 7.5.''
    if you can compromise with the language then DROP THE CSA SCORES FOR IMGS to match !! lol

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  • "enough with the boring brexit axe grinding , i think the entire country is more than a little board with brexit bull shit"


    Dunno man.

    I came to the UK 13 years ago BECAUSE it was in the EU...
    I am leaving the UK in 2019 BECAUSE it will leave the EU...

    But that's me...

    PS Actually not...I personally know of 10+ doctors and 20+ nurses that already did...

    But you are right...there is life outside Brexit ( in The EU)

    Sayonara Baby

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  • harry potter is fictional guys- just like the job advertisements - why not spend the money on the people you have instead and induce them to work for longer, with better working conditions, no pension caps and funding for a complete workforce in new buildings, oops gone creative fictional writing again, can I sell the movie rights?

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  • Having returned from Oz after 5 yrs there(bloody wife didnt like the heat!!), I can categorically say that GP dom in the UK is utter s*** compared to Oz. And I was working in bulk billing ie state funded practice. I can't think of a single thing that was worse in Oz as a GP.Not one.
    No-one from Chindia, Europe or anywhere else in the goddamned world wants to come to the UK to do medicine anymore, especially not GP.. and neither should they.
    To anyone who can, get out now whilst young,go Canada, Australia, NZ whilst you still can and NEVER EVER COME BACK.

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  • How about making General Practice more appealing to retain current GPs?

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  • Im 35 this month. I became a GP partner 6 months ago. Things that would make me stay.

    1. Contract - just pay for what you get. All you can eat buffet doesn’t work on 150 quid a year. Ship messsing around with various funding streams.
    2. Bolster community care - don’t just say it, actually do it. Provide the funding for a proper community care team with the money to pay the staff on a recurrent basis.
    3. Scrap CQC.
    4. Scrap revalidation.
    5. Make appraisal more light touch. (MUCH more).
    6. Sort pensions. It’s crazy that some GPs even as young as I am are looking at restricting work as doing the extra simply doesn’t pay after all the tax and tax on extra pension contributions. It’s a no brainer. This may help retain some more experienced doctors too.
    7. Stop reorganising.
    8. ‘Rebrand’ as primary cate consultants on a par as specialists with our secondary care colleagues.
    9. Promote general practice in universities and foundation schemes by making primary care the place to be, ending the intolerable derision we seem to get from colleagues in the hospitals and universities.
    10. Offer protection for the ‘last man standing’ situation that can occur in practices where a max exodus of GPs can leave one GP dealing with all the financial handles at the end. We have to make the partnership role the pinnacle of our profession again. It’s time and time again the view that this role offers the best bang for buck in terms of efficient care in the NHS.

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