NHS launches £100m plan to recruit GPs from abroad

New initiative comes as current services struggle to cope with growing demand

Benjamin Kentish
Friday 01 September 2017 00:12 BST
NHS executives hope more than half of the 5,000 new GPs that have been promised will come from abroad
NHS executives hope more than half of the 5,000 new GPs that have been promised will come from abroad (AFP)

The NHS has launched a £100m drive to recruit GPs from abroad in an attempt to boost staff numbers and relieve pressure on over-stretched services.

The health service is struggling to train and retain the number of GPs needed to meet patient demand, leading to long waiting times and a dwindling workforce.

NHS England will now ask recruitment agencies to apply for the £100m contract to help poach doctors from other countries. The initiative will also cover the hiring of nurses and therapists.

NHS executives have promised an additional 5,000 GPs by 2020, of which up to 3,000 are likely to come from abroad. Some health industry leaders have questioned how likely the Government is to meet its overall recruitment target.

Commenting on the announcement of the overseas recruitment drive, Dr Arvind Madan, NHS England’s Director of Primary Care, said: "Most new GPs will continue to be trained in this country, and general practice will benefit from the 25 per cent increase in medical school places over the coming years.

"But the NHS has a proud history of ethically employing international medical professionals, with one in five GPs currently coming from overseas.

“This scheme will deliver new recruits to help improve services for patients and reduce some of the pressure on hard working GPs across the country."

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said the NHS was "incredibly grateful for the skills and expertise" of GPs from overseas.

She added: "We welcome any GP from the EU or further afield who wants to work in general practice - as long as they meet the rigorous standards set by the College, General Medical Council and others to ensure safe clinical practice."

Susan Goldsmith, deputy chief executive of the General Medical Council, said: "We all recognise the pressures faced by the GP workforce at present, and we support the idea of accelerating the recruitment of additional doctors to help ease the situation."

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