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Education leaders to target international graduates to fill GP training places

Exclusive Health Education England and the GMC are set to target thousands of international medical graduates when they complete their GMC registration starting from this month.

Pulse has learned that HEE and the GMC are working together to persuade the 4,000 current international medical graduates who register to practise in the UK each year to consider applying for GP training places through the use of promotional material.

This comes after HEE once again looks set to miss its target to recruit 3,250 GP trainees every year – a target originally set for 2015, and one that forms a pillar of the Government’s strategy to recruit 5,000 extra GPs by 2020.

This targeting of overseas medical graduates is separate from a similar scheme to recruit more than 2,000 fully trained international GPs to work in England.

Dr Mohammad Saqib Anwar, associate medical director for NHS England in the Central Midlands, who led the plans to bring fully trained GPs to work in Lincolnshire, said that the focus is shifting towards recruiting graduates before they start specialty training.

He told Pulse: ‘When you look at international recruitment the focus on this has been about recruiting fully fledged general practitioners but part of the solution might be recruiting doctors to those training positions that we know Health Education England have that are underfilled.’

He added that ‘it’s nice’ to have fully qualified GPs to induct into the NHS but when there is a shortfall in the number of GP trainees ‘that might be another area where international recruitment can feed into’.

Dr Anwar told Pulse a push to recruit more international medical graduates was ‘under consideration’ by HEE.

He said: ‘How far that consideration has gone I wouldn’t be able to say but it’s certainly an area that is under consideration and in my view rightly so.’

The GMC confirmed that they are working with HEE to promote GP training.

Una Lane, the GMC’s director of registration and revalidation, told Pulse: ‘We are working with HEE to provide material promoting GP training to international medical graduates who have recently arrived in the UK.

She added that the material would be available ‘to those doctors who attend our London or Manchester offices to complete their registration’ from October.

She said: ‘The material is already being promoted by our Regional Liaison Advisers in England who provide training and support to those international doctors who are already working here.’

A spokesperson at HEE confirmed that while they already market GP training ‘as far and wide as is possible’, they said they have entered into ‘an informal arrangement’ with the GMC ‘to support us by promoting information on GP specialty recruitment to international medical graduates’.

NHS England said the scheme is led by HEE and deferred to them for comment.

NHS’s targeting of international doctors 

This is the latest scheme in the Government’s effort to deliver 5,000 more GPs by 2020.

In July NHS England announced it would be increasing the number of GPs recruited from overseas from 500 to around 2,000 in a bid to help achieve the goal.

Pulse revealed in August that GP practices will be able to recruit 600 more fully qualified overseas GPs by April 2018 and 1,000 by December.

A contract notice for the recruitment scheme, worth £100m, admitted that immigration is likely to provide the lion’s share of the promised GP workforce expansion.