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GP recruitment plans face 'hurdles' following EU referendum result

NHS plans to recruit more GPs from Europe will have to overcome even more ‘hurdles’ since the referendum decision to leave the EU, recruitment leaders have said.

Tawhid Juneja, managing director of consultancy Primary Care People (PCP) told Pulse that GPs might now consider other EU nations, like the Republic of Ireland, where there was less uncertainty.

Pulse revealed last week that NHS England was in talks with PCP about bringing to England more than 600 GPs over the next three years, who they have been supporting with training.

Mr Juneja, who is meeting NHS England bosses next week, said there are concerns that current uncertainty over freedom of movement and financial penalty of a weaker pound could hit European GPs’ decision making.

He told Pulse: ‘Yes it makes our job tougher, but it doesn’t mean we don’t progress with this because there’s a genuine shortage.

‘There was certainly a big benefit to being in the EU. There will be more hoops we’ll have to jump through, and there will be more hurdles for candidates to get motivated.

‘Now one of the hurdles we’ll have to overcome is the uncertainty, because no one likes uncertainty and the second thing is the exchange rate – that’s going to be a real concern for these GPs as well.’

He added that this is on top of the barriers from ‘stringent testing’ in clinical and professional skills, and particularly language levels where the NHS is more demanding than any other EU nation - followed by Germany, in second place.

While they were focussed on a national scheme to get GPs to UK areas where they’re needed most, as a company they were considering neighbouring countries.

He told Pulse: ‘We as an organisation look at alternatives. Ireland is certainly an alternative for GPs, with less language restrictions.

‘The reality is we have this pool of GPs, their motivation tends to be financial, the UK is a good option for them but it’s very restrictive compared with other countries in Europe.’

PCP has said they hope to strike a deal with NHS England for a national scheme, but they have been in talks with GP leaders in Lincolnshire after Pulse revealed the LMC was spearheading an initative to train GPs in Europe and bring them to the Midlands to address their particularly acute workforce concerns.

Dr Kieran Sharrock, medical director of Lincolnshire LMC, told Pulse ahead of the referendum that they intended to ‘push ahead’ with the plan despite the possibility of an out vote because leaving the EU will still be years away and he hoped that ’in that time we can maybe get some doctors here.’

Lincolshire is home to the town of Boston, where 75.6% of voters voted to leave the EU, the highest rates of any borough in the country.

The GP Forward View commits NHS England to recruiting 500 GPs from overseas, as part of Jeremy Hunt’s pledge to ‘train and retain’ an additional 5,000 GPs by 2020.

NHS auditioning for GPs on international stage

The GP Forward View commits NHS England to ‘a major international recruitment drive’ and says at least 500 GPs will be brought to the NHS from overseas in the next five years – something originally revealed by Pulse.

The NHS has been ramping up overseas recruitment as a way to boost GP numbers, with Jeremy Hunt’s pledge to recruit 5,000 more GPs by 2020 still a long way off.

Dwindling workforce is a major problem to general practice, with increasingly stretched GP services unable to attract junior doctors to fill training places.

Readers' comments (10)

  • Mr Mephisto

    Post Brexit all GP's will be heading the other direction - most likely to Australia and New Zealand - Anzacexit. If Jeremy Hunt is instated as Prime Minister the whole population may try and emigrate.

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  • Why sensible European Doctors would come to UK now, Why not Australia or Ireland?

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  • John Glasspool

    Hur! Hur! Hur!

    "Hurdles"? More like Beecher's Brook when riding a Shetland Pony! The recruitment/retention problem just got a whole lot worse!

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  • Why are you trying to recruit from Europe, Germany aside mainland europe has huge variation in medical training. I have met dozens of italians and polish drs working as registrars whose basic clinical knowledge was limited. Some were and must be dangerous. Although I have met several outstanding greek drs - so maybe recruit from there!
    But we must have a minimum standard- at least Brxit has one positive it will stop poor quality euro drs

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  • Why are we now and always, reliant on other nations, poaching from the poorest of the poor?
    Why can we not attract enough of our own and what does it say about us ?
    Yes, it is better than sub saharan Africa, but people here do not want to do it compared to being accountants, architects or computer scientists.
    Perhaps we do need a dearth , an emptiness of doctors in the wards and GP land to illustrate this point.
    We have been very quick to rob the poor.

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  • Proper language tests for a lot of EU doctors will be a very good thing

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  • Definitely EU doctors need language tests,otherwise poor patients will suffer.

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  • Why are we so dependent on others?

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  • TO Anonymous | Junior doctor30 Jun 2016 8:19am (Proper language tests for a lot of EU doctors will be a very good thing) AND Anonymous | Sessional/Locum GP30 Jun 2016 7:00am(Definitely EU doctors need language tests,otherwise poor patients will suffer)
    Can your EXCELSUS "SAPIENCE" tell my ignorant self WHAT A PROPER LANGUAGE TEST IS? I know a GP from Bilbao (Basque Country) who worked for 5 years in A&E Glasgow 17 years ago and tried to work back in the NHS as GP to no avail.He holds a Cambridge University Syndicate CPE= Certificate of PROFICIENCY IN ENGLISH who has been told that he needs to pass an IELTS exam. I WONDER HOW MANY OF THEIR POTENTIAL PATIENTS WOULD EVEN ATTEMPT TO SIT FOR THE PROFICIENCY EXAM, LET ALONE PASS IT!!. I dare you to sit for it; WOULD YOU, WELL SPOKEN XENOPHOBOPHILE DOCTORS, PASS IT?

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  • Where written "I WONDER HOW MANY OF THEIR POTENTIAL PATIENTS WOULD EVEN ATTEMPT TO SIT FOR THE PROFICIENCY EXAM, LET ALONE PASS IT!!." should be corrected for " I WONDER HOW MANY OF HIS POTENTIAL PATIENTS WOULD EVEN ATTEMPT TO SIT FOR THE PROFICIENCY EXAM, LET ALONE PASS IT!!."

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