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Recruiters using seven-day working warnings to tempt GPs abroad

Exclusive Overseas recruiters are quoting health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s plans to step up seven-day working in an attempt to persuade GPs to move abroad, Pulse can reveal.

An email to GPs from specialist recruitment firm Head Medical calls on those who want to work four-day weeks and ‘spend the rest of the week with loved ones’ to consider taking up vacancies in New Zealand.

The agents say that a career in New Zealand is ‘becoming increasingly popular’ for GPs amid Mr Hunt’s proposals.

Doctors have already set up a petition to unseat Mr Hunt in light of a speech where he suggested doctors refusing to work weekends was related to 6,000 unnecessary deaths per year,which has already generated over 200,000 signatures.

Following the speech, Mr Hunt said that he had ‘yet to meet’ a doctor who does not want seven-day working.

However, the GPC has already urged Mr Hunt to give up ‘pipe dreams’ of seven-day GP appointments and RCGP chair Dr Maureen Baker has argued that GPs are already ‘being pushed to our limits in trying to provide a safe five-day service’.

The email from Head Medical to GPs states: ‘New Zealand has always been popular with GPs at all stages in their career but after the recent proposals by [Jeremy Hunt] of a “more human, seven-day care service”, it is now becoming an increasingly popular relocation favourite.

‘Whether you are looking to go out on a short-term contract to experience another culture and health care system and return to the UK with more life experience or if you are in fact looking to make the permanent move, New Zealand can be that reality.’

Head Medical’s managing director Anna Payne told Pulse that although there were many ‘pull factors’ for GPs made the ‘big decision’ to move overseas, such as ‘lifestyle, location, weather, financial reward and experience’.

However, she added: ‘There is no doubt that there are also some push factors and perhaps growing dissatisfaction with working conditions, working hours, concerns around resourcing, employment contracts and the future direction of the NHS are encouraging greater numbers of doctors to consider working overseas.’

She said that her company, which is UK-based, is not trying to ‘lure or coerce’ GPs out of the NHS but are only doing targeted email campaigns aimed at GPs who have signed up to receive alerts about opportunities abroad.

RCGP chair Dr Maureen Baker said: ‘It is very worrying that such concerted efforts are being made to encourage GPs to work overseas at a time when the shortage of family doctors across the UK is so severe.

‘Campaigns such as this demonstrate how critical it is for the government and other health organisations to do everything possible to increase the general practice workforce in the UK by retaining our existing GPs, recruiting new doctors into general practice, and making it easier for trained GPs to return to practice after a career break.’

GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘It’s vital that the secretary of state does all in his power to invest in general practice and address the workload and bureaucratic burdens that are undermining the quality of care GPs provide to patients and putting off doctors from becoming GPs in England.

‘This needs to be done urgently, despite the financial pressures facing the rest of the NHS, because a failure to do so will ultimately mean a huge loss of expensively trained skilled professionals and patient care will be further compromised.’

Readers' comments (28)

  • If UK General Practice collapses the knock on effect of 90% of NHS consultations going to A & E will result in little care for patients, other than life saving measures.

    There is now a very real risk that the snowball of early retirement and emigration will become an avalanche and this eventuality, thought I'm possible before, could become a reality.

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  • John Glasspool

    Well done "overseas recruiters". They are not lying, unlike British politicians.

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  • Well, they need to show us if they value us - they valued the bankers and paid silly sums to keep them in the UK - much more then they value us as GPs.


    Weak statements from Maureen will do nothing to help things - she needs to be more forceful.

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  • Maureen needs to resign, not issue more statements.

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  • maureen is not CG.

    She's in over her head.

    We need the LMC/BMA to come out fighting, they're too polite and measured.

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  • The NHS has lured hundreds of thousands of professionals from overseas to work in the uk ever since its inception in the 1940's, and continues to do so;

    iT WORKS BOTH WAYS FOLKS! if NHS uk cannot look after its staff they are free to leave; there is a worldwide demand for medical skills;

    well done head medical and other recruiters, they are reminding doctors and other professionals in the uk that they have value and can choose their working conditions;

    remember its not just money that talks, its lifestyle, satisfaction, professional autonomy, a variety of work, th ability to give yourself and your family a good life.......

    the nhs is just another form of british state socialism where work is imposed, dissent is squashed with bullying, skepticism is forbidden ( mr hunt recently called a gp who questioned his 7 day plans skeptic!----- i would say the gp was actually a realist!!) venomous lies in the media about professionals not pulling their weight.........blackmail (if you don't agree to this we will impose it on you anyway.......) bribery ( if you do this we will give you some short term non recurrent funding etc.....)

    medical professionals have to put up with a forms of filth that the doh regards as flavour of the month no matter how absurd; who in their right mind would agree to this nonsense;

    my advice.......do whats right for you and your family and ignore the rcgp who recently tried to ban overseas recruiters from its conference!!! they think burying all the problems in primary care will make them go away!!!

    try addressing the real reasons why doctors are leaving rather than blaming recruiters!

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  • i left uk 3 yrs ago and it looks as though things have got far far worse......

    so its obvious to me many of the reasons that pushed me away have not been addressed.

    its unlikely i think that i would be tempted to return unless the government takes a long hard look at itself and how it works with professionals. Working abroad has really opened my eyes to what a work/life balance really is, which is something i really wasn't aware of in england.

    as long as the "lunch is for light weights" mentality prevails in england and GP's , despite working very hard, are portrayed as lazy money grabbing amateur golfers, there continues to be a major risk of burnout.

    i value my life and family above all else and certainly won't be martyring myself for the NHS!!!!!!!

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  • there is no crisis ... sure there are concerns there may be a crisis but it actually hasn't happened.

    look at the facts - GDP spending on healthcare has plummeted but efficiency is up - we see more patients than ever and feedback is still positive. in short - Hunt has done what no other politician has been able to do i.e. cut costs and increase productivity.

    i predict no crisis as most GPs and indeed most doctors are going to say yes to whatever needs to be done to save the NHS even if it means working 24/7/365 for minimum wage.

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  • If aeroplane manufacturers made planes on a sloppy production line with a 5% 10 year risk of crashing it would be a lot cheaper and the secretary of state provided transport would declare success due to the 'productivity' gains.

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  • Lets stop the moaning. We get paid more than the average worker. These are times of austerity for everyone- we just need to soldier on..

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