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.’