A worldwide advertising campaign is to be launched by the Government in an attempt to entice foreign doctors to work in the National Health Service.

The NHS plan last year promised to employ 7,500 more consultants and 2,000 more GPs by the end of 2004, but there are concerns it will be impossible to train enough British doctors to meet the target.

Adverts will be aimed at senior doctors in industrialised countries in the European Union, Australia, Canada, the United States and Asia. Special attention will be paid to Spain, Germany and Italy because they train more doctors than they need for their national healthcare services.

A Department of Health spokesman said: "The biggest constraint the NHS faces today is no longer a shortage of financial resources. It is a shortage of human resources."

The department's medical adviser on international recruitment said: "It takes at least six years to train a doctor. In the interim, it makes sense to see if we can attract senior doctors from outside the UK."