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LMC recruits first wave of overseas GPs to take pressure off practices

Lincolnshire LMC has recruited its first wave of international GPs from across Europe, who will start training in Poland next month.

Twelve overseas recruits will then start work in Lincolnshire from April 2017, with a further cohort to join in August, bringing the total number up to 25.

NHS England, which chose Lincolnshire to pilot the new recruitment programme earlier this year, said that after their arrival, the new recruits would be included in a ‘three-year training provision programme to ensure that they are comfortable and fully integrated into NHS general practice’.

The North East has been one of the areas that has had most difficulty filling its places on GP training schemes. Lincolnshire currently has 40 GP vacancies to fill, out of a total workforce of 340 whole time equivalent GPs.

The scale of the GP shortage in the area equates to one GP per 2,080 patients, higher than NHS England’s safety benchmark of one GP to 1,750 patients, according to the area’s sustainability and transformation plan (STP).

Dr Kieran Sharrock, medical director of Lincolnshire LMC, said the doctors, from countries including Lithuania, Bulgaria, Poland and Spain, have been given a ‘conditional job offer’ and will undertake training from January to March.

The training course, in Poland, will teach the doctors about how the NHS works, ‘Lincolnshire culture’ and ‘communication skills for the NHS’.

Dr Sharrock said: ‘We want to make sure that they are happy and want to stay here. The last thing we want to do is for them to come here and feel like a fish out of water.’

But he added that the training and recruitment costs are ‘quite significant’, amounting to between £25,000 and £50,000 per doctor, depending on any long-term costs.

Following the Lincolnshire pilot, NHS England plans to roll it out more widely to meet the target of 500 GPs from overseas set out in the GP Forward View.

But it has said that GPs will be recruited ‘on an ethical basis’ from countries where there are already plenty of GPs.

The Lincolnshire STP wrongly stated that the area will see 25 GPs in post from next month.

Recruiting GPs from abroad

NHS England is pushing ahead with its plan to recruit hundreds of GPs from Europe, despite health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s pledge in October for the NHS to start relying on ‘homegrown’ doctors.

NHS England has said this scheme is to become ‘a blueprint’ for similar schemes across the country.

Pulse revealed in June that Lincolnshire LMC had been working with European medical recruiters to attract GPs to work in the county, and the GP Forward View outlined NHS England’s plan to attract 500 GPs of its 5,000 GP target from overseas.