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GPs should pay off costs of medical training before moving abroad, says MP

GPs should be obliged to work in the NHS for a period of time after training, or pay off their training costs before moving abroad to work, an MP has claimed.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph today, Tom Tugendhat, the Conservative MP for Tonbridge, Edenbridge and Malling, suggests introducing a ‘return of service’ obligation for medical staff, similar to that of army personnel.

Pulse reported earlier this year that 800 GPs are applying for work abroad each year.

Mr Tugendhat, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, says it is ‘time for us to require those trained at the British people’s expense to work a number of years in the NHS before working abroad’.

The MP claims that it costs £500,000 to train a GP, and these costs ‘aren’t remotely covered by the tuition fees they pay as undergraduates’.

He adds: ‘We spend £5bn a year on training new medical personnel. Yet an increasing amount of that money is going overseas. Every year some 5,000 doctors leave the UK. The most popular destinations are Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

‘These are wealthy countries benefiting from British taxpayers’ expenditure. It is hard to argue this is the best use of resources when our own population is ageing and in need of greater investment in medical services.’

Mr Tugendhat likens this to the Armed Forces’ ‘return of service’ commitment, which sees fighter pilots, for example, having to serve 12 years in the RAF before joining the commercial sector.

It comes after media reports that there were almost 1,700 applications to the GMC for Certificates of Current Professional Status (CCPS), which allow doctors to work abroad, within just three weeks of the announcement of the junior doctor contract imposition.  

However, Pulse can reveal that much of this surge came following a campaign by the GP Survival group for doctors to apply for the certificates to send a message to the Department of Health.