NHS to re­cruit 2,000 for­eign GPS to fill gap

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Laura Hughes PO­LIT­I­CAL COR­RE­SPON­DENT

THE health ser­vice is to re­cruit around 2,000 GPS from coun­tries such as New Zealand, Aus­tralia and the rest of the EU in an ef­fort to meet its staff tar­gets, the head of NHS Eng­land has re­vealed.

Simon Stevens said four times the 500 ex­tra doc­tors that had been planned are needed to tackle the rise in va­can­cies for fam­ily doc­tors.

The Govern­ment has set a tar­get of re­cruit­ing 5,000 more GPS by 2020, but is ex­pected to miss this goal.

In an in­ter­view with the Health Ser­vice Jour­nal (HSJ), Mr Stevens said that ef­forts were be­ing stepped up to en­cour­age GPS to come to the UK.

He said: “Al­though there are some good signs of progress on in­creases in the GP train­ing scheme, nev­er­the­less there are real pres­sures around re­tire­ments.

“And so the con­clu­sion we’ve come to is that in or­der to in­crease the like­li­hood of be­ing able to have 5,000 more doc­tors in gen­eral prac­tice, we are go­ing to need … a sig­nif­i­cantly ex­panded in­dus­trial scale in­ter­na­tional re­cruit­ment pro­gramme. We in­tend to launch that in the au­tumn.

“Rather than the cur­rent 500 or so GPS that are be­ing tar­geted for in­ter­na­tional re­cruit­ment … it prob­a­bly needs to be four times more than that.”

Asked for his view on whether the pub­lic sec­tor pay cap should be lifted, Mr Stevens said that if the cap was lifted, ex­tra fund­ing for NHS staff would have to be put in place.

The move comes af­ter new fig­ures sug­gested that wait­ing times to see a GP are likely to soar due to a six-fold rise in va­can­cies for fam­ily doc­tors.

The find­ings from Pulse mag­a­zine showed 12.2 per cent of po­si­tions are cur­rently va­cant – an in­crease from 2.1 per cent in 2011. Al­most one in five of GPS polled said they had given up try­ing to re­cruit a doc­tor in the last year be­cause it had proved im­pos­si­ble.

Dr Richard Vautrey, act­ing chair­man of the Bri­tish Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion’s GP com­mit­tee, said: “This an­nounce­ment is yet an­other clear ad­mis­sion of fail­ure from the Govern­ment, which is ef­fec­tively con­ced­ing it can­not meet its own tar­get of re­cruit­ing 5,000 ex­tra GPS without an emer­gency draft of doc­tors from abroad. Gen­eral prac­tice is cur­rently un­der un­sus­tain­able pres­sure from ris­ing pa­tient de­mand, fall­ing re­sources and wide­spread staff short­ages.

“Ap­ply­ing a stick­ing plas­ter by re­cruit­ing doc­tors from abroad can only of­fer a lim­ited short-term fix, es­pe­cially when there is un­cer­tainty over free­dom of move­ment fol­low­ing the UK’S exit from the EU.”

Prof He­len Stokes-lam­pard, chair­man of the Royal Col­lege of GPS, said the col­lege wel­comed any GP from the EU or fur­ther afield “as long as they meet the rig­or­ous stan­dards set by the Col­lege and Gen­eral Med­i­cal Coun­cil to en­sure safe clin­i­cal prac­tice”.

‘Ap­ply­ing a stick­ing plas­ter by re­cruit­ing doc­tors from abroad can only of­fer a lim­ited short-term fix’

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