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600 European GPs 'in the pipeline' to work in England, says recruiter

Exclusive NHS England is conducting meetings with recruiters who say they have a scheme to train and offer pastoral care to as many as 600 GPs from Europe to work in the NHS and support their relocation in the next three years.

The director of commissioning and Health Education England leaders will meet Primary Care People (PCP) at the start of July to hear proposals for a national scheme, which the recruitment firm said could lead to overseas GPs being directed to the areas of most need. 

PCP managing director Tawhid Juneja told Pulse the company can boost retention rates of overseas GPs coming to England by working with NHS England on relocation and support, rather than working with separate local area teams. 

NHS England confirmed it was meeting to discuss the PCP proposals, but said it was too early to comment on their intentions.

It comes as Pulse revealed that GPs in Lincolnshire had been looking into similar solutions, recruiting from Spain, Poland and Romania as the only way to address their significant workforce issues, while NHS England’s GP Forward View said it will attempt to attract 500 overseas GPs to England.

NHS England director of commissioning Rosamund Roughton and Professor Simon Gregory, director and dean of education and quality at Health Education England will meet with Mr Juneja, who says his company has been working with interested GPs in Europe for 18 months.

Mr Juneja said PCP has been training these GPs to prepare for the NHS’s professional qualifications and cultural differences, and around 100 of these GPs were far enough into their training that they could come to England in the next year

He said: ‘We have got this pipeline, we’ve already got 600 GPs who could be ready in the next three years. I can only guarantee that I can bring in 100 in the next 12 months, so it makes sense to do it on a national basis and potentially look at the areas that need the most support, instead of one area benefitting from it.

‘[We could then bring] 200 in year two and 300 in year three. We’re running it as a campaign. We’re not going to go to a country and start stealing all their GPs, that’s not ethical.’

He said the company wanted to take on all the pastoral support responsibilities while HEE and NHS England assured clinical skills and access to the performers list.

Mr Juneja said cultural practices could vary much more than clinical standards, and were significant in ensuring doctors were confident in their work.

He told Pulse: ‘A GP in Hungary will never be questioned on anything whatsoever, but in the UK you have prescribing nurse practitioners, or practice nurses stronger on chronic illness even than some GPs.

‘They may well question a GP on this. So if the GP is not prepared for this, and it’s something that happens every single day, then your GP might not be making clinical decisions in the same way and they might not feel as comfortable.’

NHS England looking abroad for GPs

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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, and a recently relaunched returner’s scheme already undergoing an overhaul.

Readers' comments (34)

  • Brilliant idea!!!!Then we will have GPs in abundance.No need to train local GPs.But we may have to teach local people these European languages.

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  • 600 won't even make a dent against the numbers who are quitting and reducing sessions because job is too toxic

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  • I will interested to know what their defence union fees are going to look like. I predict a complaint or two, primarily based on this comment

    'A GP in Hungary will never be questioned on anything whatsoever.'

    Welcome to the UK chaps. Where you will be questioned and scrutinized on everything you. do.

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  • The numbers of Europeans leaving the NHS after Brexit might just jolt a few people. Even before that the moods are not optimistic. If, as is likely, US waives visas for Polish nationals by the end of the year, there could be a mass exodus of Poles. Till now this has been the one EU country which has not had visa free entry to US.
    Best of luck to the recruiters but there's a hole in the bucket which is not going to be easy to plug - not in the present circumstances of NHS.

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  • We welcome you to a world of stress, high demand, huge workloads,revalidation and apprasials every year,GMC and CQC breathing down your neck, medicine is treated like a pizza service 24hr a day 7 day a week, a service that comsumerised for patients- now called clients. ETC ETC. May u guys have long life and happiness in our NHS.

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  • 'He said: ‘We have got this pipeline, we’ve already got 600 GPs who could be ready in the next three years. I can only guarantee that I can bring in 100 in the next 12 months,...'

    Sounds like 600 have expressed an interest and they could cope with 100 if they proceed.

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  • Peter Swinyard

    I did have a Spanish GP working in my practice a few years ago. Nice chap. English not up to scratch. Thought he'd make a fortune and drive a Mercedes. Ended up leaving suddenly as he found he had to do more than just refer to specialist care. Drove his Renault Kangoo back to Spain leaving a trail of debt (nursery, house rental etc) behind him. I have not looked to recruit overseas since. British GPs have vastly more complex and demanding jobs than most of our European neighbours - but we wouldn't look kindly on some of the demands on other countries' GPs. For example, in France if you want a routine eye test, this has to be authorised by your GP first. You then attend for the eye test. Then you go elsewhere for your glasses to be dispensed....

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  • Charge of the Light Brigade
    -----------------------

    Theirs not to make reply,
    Theirs not to reason why,
    Theirs but to do and die.
    Into the valley of Death
    Rode the six hundred.

    Cannon to right of them
    cannon to left of them,
    Cannon in front of them
    Volleyed and thundered;
    Stormed at with shot and shell,
    Boldly they rode and well,
    Into the jaws of Death,
    Into the mouth of hell
    Rode the six hundred

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  • Peter Swinyard

    thanks anon 1052am. - not the best parody but...

    Theirs not to make reply,
    Theirs not to reason why,
    Theirs but to do and die.
    Into the NHS in Death
    Row, the six hundred.

    Lawyers to right of them
    NHSE to left of them,
    CQC in front of them
    Volleyed and thundered;
    Stormed at with complaints and smell,
    Boldly they gave Ibugel,
    Into the jaws of Death,
    Into the mouth of hell
    Rode the six hundred

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  • Many Eastern European medical systems work with generalist gynaecologists / FP /paediatricians /ENT, so the average GP sees none of these things.

    How is this training going to be undertaken and who will adjudicate on ability?

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