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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Government's plan to recruit GPs from abroad is simply daft

Dr Krishna Kasaraneni

At the BMA’s annual representatives meeting last year, Dr Mark Porter, Chair of Council said ’We were told immigrants are filling up our GP surgeries and our hospitals. Well, they are. They’re called doctors, and nurses, and porters, and cleaners, and clinical scientists. And without them, the NHS would be on its knees.’ Doctors from overseas have always provided a valuable contribution to this country’s health system, especially as they undergo a rigorous assessment process to ensure they have the right skills for the NHS.

Ministers need to stop the short term fixes and launch an urgent support package for general practice

But the Government’s plan to now actively recruit doctors from overseas after the most significant period of under-investment in the NHS is laughable. So, the plan is to drive doctors abroad by a combination of contract imposition, ridiculous targets, unnecessary reorganisation of the health service, lies about a seven-day NHS and many more ridiculous ideas (or more, please visit the DH website) and then replace them with doctors from abroad? Seriously?

How about not doing the above? Or even better, undoing the damage done by the above? No, that would be a political turn around. One we know from the late Mrs Thatcher that politicians aren’t very good at doing.

The health service needs funding, resources and most importantly, the workforce to deliver high standards of health care to the public. The demands on the health service are increasing exponentially and the healthcare needs for the most vulnerable in the society are becoming more complex. The workforce is facing unprecedented levels of burnout. We are not facing a perfect storm, we are now in it. And this is the best the Government can come up with as a solution.

The Government’s pledge to recruit 5,000 extra GPs (which they conveniently changed to 5,000 extra doctors in GP later on) is clearly collapsing into chaos. Ministers need to stop the short term fixes and launch an urgent support package for general practice that addresses the huge pressures on GP services from staff shortages, underfunding and a service unable to cope with rising patient demand. Next time they come up with a clever idea, they need to realise that their clever ideas are most often simply daft.

Dr Krishna Kasaraneni is chair of the GPC education, training and workforce subcommittee

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Readers' comments (13)

  • The government said they should be held to their pledges in getting a 7 day week, so they should be held to their promise of 5000 GPs.
    Also the Indian doctors will be treated even worse than the UK doctors.
    You see there is no way that the government will back down in their quest to slash doctors salaries etc... so doctors have nothing to lose by going on strike permanantly until they give in.
    At present there are not enough qualified gps so they have to work with us. When the indian doctors get set up in a year or twos time, they will replace uk doctors completely.

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  • The reason they are looking for Indian doctors because they are going to start new system of GP who are going to be paid less and those will replace the current GP system in the years to come , that way they can making savings to the NHS and will creat new general practice which in their mind will be cost effective

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  • Harley Thespaniel

    I wish pharmacists would realise doctors are( supposed ) to be on the same side as them.
    How much is reasonable for 'part time' doctors to earn?

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  • From the DOH point of view, whoever will provide a cheap service.
    UK students do not need to become doctors. They can do other things. There is a shortage of Engineers, computer whizzes etc.
    Actually, if Indian doctors want to come here and face CQC, GMC etc, 12- 14 hour days, good luck to them.

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  • 9.49 pharmacist.
    You know all health care professionals are or will be under attack from the government.
    By attacking doctors in their time of need when they are down, how much support do you think you will get from doctors and others when it is your professions turn to be under attack?
    So it would be wise to engage brain before you spew out hate/jealous words to others.

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  • Well said, 9.45 pharmacist ! Join the club of nurses, teachers & ANY other group caring for vulnerable people !!
    Hit the weakest & most caring !

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  • Please dont assume that because one pharmacist makes an ill-informed comment that the entire pharmacy profession is in agreement. I can only speak for me but i think that Hunt's egregious desperation is the subject in hand rather than GPs salaries. Lansley was appalling and dishonest and Cameron elevated him to the Lords. I wonder what awaits Hunt - beatification?

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  • The fact is this = in spite of these apparently colossal salaries that part time doctors earn, we cannot get enough of them to become GPs for some strange reason. [Perhaps said pharmacist should become a part time doctor.]
    We have to import them from some even more under doctored area [ 1:1800 vs 1:400].
    I am one such. Life in the UK is so much better than the extremely corrupt country I come from. but the NHS is horrible, absolutely terrible.
    It is like slave labour with its 1:2 rotas, 80 hour weekends without sleep.
    But I balance the first against the second, so I come here. But make no mistake, the hours and pay here are very poor.
    My pay for overtime in those 80 hour weekends was 30 pence an hour.
    If I took on a patient [ as a GP}in 2003, I got 20 pounds per year.
    Today, take home pay per GP consult is about 3 pounds.
    Not a King's ransom. But doctors will come to the UK for other reasons, like I did.

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  • I came to the UK 14 years ago and no regret. But due to the enormous pressure, rediculous demands and no respect towards my profession, I am gradually losing morale and going into depression. It's a difficult decision for me and my family but we decided to move on and leave the country. I wish good luck to my colleagues who are enforced to continue here for own reasons.

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  • Because the working day in General Practice is so long (typically taking me 15 hours to complete a day's work with an average list size)the pay is much lower than it appears at first glance, for a partner with all the responsibility, maybe £30 to £35 per hour. But for most practices now this isn't about the falling income but the inability to recruit and the rapid loss of doctors. When day after day you cannot meet the needs of your patients, having to increasingly assertively push back against demand, you get demoralised. I see overworked demoralised pharmacists too. We need to involve patients in a debate about what we don't do and can't do anymore. Why 'self help' and a bit of 'wait and see' is going to be a crucial first step.

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