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NHS England advert urges British GPs to come home from Australia

Exclusive British GPs working in Australia have been targeted by an advertisement placed in two medical magazines urging them to return home and practise in the UK, Pulse can reveal.

Managers told Pulse that they expect several GPs to return to practise in the UK as a ‘direct result ‘of the advertisement that was placed in Australian Doctor and the Medical Observer.

The advert promises a ‘fully-funded induction and returner scheme’ if GPs return to the UK and also emphasises that practices taking part in the scheme are ‘looking to recruit permanent GPs’.

Pulse has learnt that the advert by NHS England’s Shropshire and Staffordshire area team and Health Education Midlands was one of the most popular to have ever run on the Australian doctor website. It ran in both publications last November and December.

Keele University - GP Advert

But GP leaders have said that placing advertisements abroad will not be enough to solve the GP workforce crisis.

Dr Ken Deacon, medical director of the North Midlands at NHS England said the advert was to address the ‘national shortage’ of qualified GPs due to new recruits being outnumbered by retirements.

He said: ‘In order to address this situation we have placed advertisements, both locally and nationally, aimed at UK trained doctors working overseas (including in Australia), who wish to return to NHS practice, but have not been able to do so because of difficulties in finding places on approved returners schemes.

‘We have had a number of applications as a result of the advert and expect several doctors to relocate back to the UK, and re-join NHS General Practice as a direct result. At around the same time we also advertised for UK based doctors wishing to return to practise; a number of these doctors have already accepted posts, and will be starting work in the near future.’

According to Paul Smith, deputy editor of Australian Doctor, said the advert proved popular. He said: ‘In terms of click-throughs it was the most popular advert on our website we have run. It may have been linked to the threats from the federal government to cut Medicare funding for GP services in the budget last year – [it] caused a lot of unhappiness.’

But Dr Krishna Kasaraneni, chair of the GPC’s Education, Training and Workforce subcommittee, said: ‘We fully support a completely-funded returner or refresher scheme for GPs abroad to come back. But they’re only going to come back if we sort out what’s actually happening here first, not merely placing adverts in overseas journal. Just asking them to come back isn’t necessarily going to solve the workforce crisis we’ve got.’

NHS England recently published a £10m strategy to tempt medical graduates to become GPs and experienced GPs to delay retirement. The ideas included a new national scheme for returners, and cash inducements if they also agree to work in an under-doctored area.

A spokesperson for NHS England said that the central team had not previously been aware of the advertisement, but described it as a ‘positive scheme’. He said: ‘While it’s not a strategy that we’ve been specifically advocating centrally, it certainly looks like a positive scheme.

‘Easier returning to practice is point nine of the 10 point New Deal for General Practice we published at the back end of last month, and work is currently underway between ourselves, HEE, the RCGP and GPC on a new induction and returner scheme, which will reflect the needs of those returning from practising overseas or career breaks.’

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Readers' comments (44)

  • Why would they?GP in UK at moment is the pits.

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  • A shame that NHS England does not seem interested in retaining those GPs currently working in the UK, many of whom are planning an early escape.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Things have their roots and branches, affairs have their end and beginning. When you know what comes first and what comes last, then you are near the Way.
    The Great Learning(University)

    Try to solve the crisis without addressing the root, putting the cart in front of the horse . Utter ignorance.

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  • NHS England have really "disgraced" themselves.
    If they stopped treating GPs like "****" then maybe they would not need to go grovelling to GPs who have had the sense to leave this crappy country.

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  • NHSE again catching the wrong end of the stick. Try, in the first place, giving decent working conditions to those in the country to prevent further exodus.

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  • "Fine-tune your skills with real patients" - that's a wee bit patronising for someone working as a GP in Australia... "Click-throughs" are all well and good, but would be interesting to see if this attracts anyone beyond those who were coming back anyway.

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  • Emigrate to Australia/Canada , then apply from there as returner and get better pay and better working contract . possibly treated better as well. ?

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  • Laughable if it wasn't so sad and desperate. "Managers" have clearly not understood the issue.

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  • If the Australia living British Gp want to preserve their sanity until current NHS organised is more doctor and patient friendly they should stay put where they are

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  • What a waste of taxpayers money.
    But even worse... that these NHS bureaucrats lack the common sense of a bedbug
    No sane doctor would want to work in a system where they have a 1 in 3 chance to be mauled by the GMC.
    And risk becoming one of the doctors a month that dies due to the regulatory genocide perpetuated in the UK.

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