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Independents' Day

GPs overseas could provide online consultations, says GMC

Doctors based abroad could be used to treat patients in the UK as a way of overcoming recruitment problems, the GMC has said.

The plan would involve harnessing new technology so that doctors with the relevant qualifications abroad could provide support to healthcare employers in the UK.

The idea is contained within the GMC’s annual The state of medical education and practice in the UK report.

The report says: ‘With advances and developments in technology and telemedicine, we are exploring how to maximise the longer-term potential for internationally based doctors to treat UK patients, with the same assurance on standards as when the care is provided by UK based doctors. Some developments in this area may require legislative reform.’

A GMC spokesperson said: ‘Medical professionals are working under severe pressure and we’re exploring a range of ways we can support the growth and retention of the UK workforce.

‘If employers decided to use modern technology to expand their recruitment scope for certain services, we would work to ensure high standards could be maintained to protect patient safety.’

The plans were at a very early stage in development, and any decision to go ahead would be made by employers rather than the GMC, the spokesperson added.

The report also said that the GMC had been working with partners such as the RCGP in mapping the UK GP curriculum against two GP curricula in Australia. ‘This means that GPs trained in Australia under those curricula will be required to provide significantly less evidence as part of any GP registration application for the UK,’ the report said.

The GMC has also worked with NHS England and Health Education England to contact overseas doctors currently training in the UK. The aim was to encourage them to consider primary care for their specialty training with a view to staying in the UK to work in this field.

BMA GP Committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ’While the internet may now mean the way we think about geographical boundaries are not the same as they were 10 years ago, a move like this would require serious regulatory consideration – and as the GMC notes possibly changes in the law.

’All doctors treating patients in the NHS must be held to the same high standards, regardless of where they themselves are practising.

’The priority must be on addressing the pressures facing our own workforce and the resulting recruitment and retention crisis in general practice, before even entertaining the idea of outsourcing services in such a way.’


Readers' comments (13)

  • One word: Desperate.
    Just improve the pay and conditions and the problems will be sorted but no. I wonder if Gross Negligence Manslaughter applies to them too. The sensible Australians have a good Samaritian law so nobody can be sued for helping. Why can't we have something sensible like that here instead of Gross Negligence Manslaughter.

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  • Christmas send up?

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  • Everyday is a pi@@ take day in the UK.

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  • I suggest just stopping at the very early stage and could/might save time, money and comedy value.

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  • GMC seem to be living in ‘Cloud Cuckoo land’. Maybe that’s where they propose to recruit these doctors (who will of course carry the local medical ‘Cloud Cuckoo’ indemnity?

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  • Sounds like Theresa May suggested this

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  • AlanAlmond

    A political move purely for the benefit of the likes of PushDr. This is the thin end of the wedge and is the start of the GMC setting itself up to become irrelevant. It’s effectively proposing changes that would set in motion events that lead to is disappearance. What are we going to have , one set of rules for U.K. based Drs and one for those registered overseas? I can guarantee that it will disadvantage UK registered Drs, push down standards and encourage the end of independent U.K. practice. Anyone seriously believe that any scheme won’t be ruthlessly exploited by market forces and big business to move medical practice off shore to the benefit of the treasury at the expense of U.K. controlled/regulated medical care. This is about money and politics and has nothing to do with ensuring high quality U.K. based medical care. The GMC is simply an arm of government, it stands for nothing and is rotten to its very core.

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  • AlanAlmond

    Opening a Pandora’s box of dodgy off shore online practice. We’ll have anonymous Drs registered in Lithuania working from offices in Romania prescribing antibiotics to anyone who wants them, all rubber stamped by Whitehall via the GMC. Blatantly obvious to anyone who takes the time to think.

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  • Meanwhile, UK trained doctors who work abroad for more than a year are unable to work in the UK.

    The GMC leadership are an utter disgrace, as are the BMA for not publicly denouncing them.

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  • So you can register with the GMC without hassle if you agree to provide online consultations? Would terming this 'double or treble bonkers' be sufficient/ Let's think of some apt phrase/word to describe this latest bulb that has flashed in GMC's 'mind of it's own'

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