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BMA: Indian GP scheme shows recruitment is ‘collapsing into chaos’

Pulse’s revelation that the Government is looking to bring GPs to England from India is an ‘admission of failure’ in its own recruitment policies, the BMA has said.

Pulse today revealed that Health Education England has been working with Apollo Hospital group in India to look at ways of bringing hundreds of Indian GPs to the UK.

The BMA has said that the story demonstrates that the pledge to recruit 5,000 extra GPs by 2020 is ‘collapsing into chaos’.

The RCGP has said it ‘welcomes non-EU trained doctors’, but claimed that suggestions GPs would be ‘parachuted in’ were ‘misleading’.

HEE has said that it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Apollo Hospitals, and the details are being finalised.

Pulse understands that the two parties are in discussion around potentially bringing hundreds of GPs to England.

GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘Doctors from overseas have always provided a valuable contribution to this country’s health system, especially as they undergo a rigorous assessment process to ensure they have the right skills for the NHS.

‘However, it is clearly an admission of failure that the government seems to have launched a new recruitment scheme overseas to plug what is clearly a widening gap in the number of homegrown GPs in our workforce.’

He added that ministers need to launch an urgent support package for general practice.

Dr Nagpaul said: ‘The Government’s pledge to recruit 5,000 extra GPs by 2020 is clearly collapsing into chaos.’

Dr Maureen Baker, chair of the RCGP, said: ‘We welcome any expressions of interest from doctors outside of the EU wanting to work in the NHS – but they would first have to undergo GP specialty training, and pass our rigorous entrance assessment.

‘They would also have to pass the GMC’s Professional Linguistic and Assessments Board test.’

‘Any suggestions that they will simply be ‘parachuted in’ to practise in the UK is grossly misleading.’

But the GMC itself says on its website that doctors will not have to pass the PLAB if they have ‘a sponsorship under an arrangement approved by us; an approved postgraduate qualification; eligibility to enter the GP or specialist register’.

How the Government’s target has been diluted

Jeremy Hunt - online

Jeremy Hunt – online

Source: Alamy

The DH now claims that the target of 5,000 extra GPs by 2020 will also include doctors in training, effectively giving it three more years to boost numbers.

But this was not health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s original pledge to the Conservative Party conference in 2014. His words were: ‘Tory conference, I can today confirm plans to train and retain an extra 5,000 GPs.’

And this was the rhetoric leading up to general election, with the DH saying it was committed to bringing ‘5,000 more GPs’ into the system by 2020.

But this rhetoric changed when Mr Hunt announced his ‘new deal’ in June 2015. The health secretary also said in the subsequent Q&A session that there would be ‘flexibility [in the target] because in some parts of the country it is very hard to recruit GPs’.