NHS recruiter says the Government needs to recruit more foreign doctors to meet its targets

Hiring an extra 5,000 GPs would be very difficult without overseas recruitment, major recruiter says

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Indy Politics

The Government must allow the NHS to recruit more doctors from abroad if it is to meet its targets to boost GP numbers, a leading recruiter has said.

The Conservative manifesto called for the health service to take on 5,000 more GPs to help surgeries extend opening hours.

The reform is part of a long-term strategy to move care out of hospitals and into local surgeries, thought to be a more efficient way of delivering treatment.

But ManpowerGroup Solutions UK, one of the biggest recruiters of GPs for the NHS, said there were not enough “homegrown” GPs to accomplish the policy.

“David Cameron has pledged to recruit 5,000 new GPs to extend surgery opening hours. That will improve care for millions, but it’s hard to see where those doctors will come from,” said James Hick, managing director of the group.

“As a major recruiter of GPs, we see that there are not enough homegrown new clinicians. There’s no simple fix - even if we were to double the number of medical school graduates from British universities, it still wouldn’t solve the problem.

“We’re already reliant on doctors and nurses from abroad. Twenty six percent are non-British and that number could rise by 50% over the next five years.”

The group also warned that leaving the EU would have a “very negative effect on our economic health” at a time “when we face serious skills shortages in key areas of the economy”.


The NHS currently hires 3,000 foreign national doctors a year from 27 different countries, according to figures reported by the Guardian newspaper.

The Government is however committed to delivering dramatically lower migration to the UK, with an aspiration to reduce figures from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands.

“We urgently need to make it easier for busy, working people to get an appointment,” health secretary Jeremy Hunt said at the policy’s launch. “That means more GPs.”

The Department of Health told the Government’s migration advisory committee that that 3,280 trainee GPs were needed by the health service every year and that it was falling short of this target by 400.

In February this year the committee declined to put GPs or nurses on a list of roles that needed to be filled from outside the European Union, however.

Overseas staff from outside the EU can only be recruited to posts on the list.

Last winter dozens of experienced doctors were hired on fixed term contracts from abroad to help deal with high seasonal demand.