NHS England has announced a new wave of funding to recruit talented doctors from overseas for GP practices in Hull, East Riding, Scarborough and North and North East Lincolnshire.
As part of NHS England’s International GP Recruitment Programme, more than £2 million has been committed to recruit additional GPs for GP practices in the regional areas. While GP training places are increasing year-on-year and many GPs are returning to practice, many practices continue to face recruitment issues, and newly qualified GPs are often locuming rather than joining a practice as a permanent GP. Some older GPs are leaving the profession early. This is leaving a gap between the number of doctors practices want, and the numbers they are successfully recruiting and retaining.
NHS England will commission recruitment providers to identify potential overseas doctors and will support them through the recruitment process. A national recruitment centre will be set up to work with the recruitment providers and with local commissioners to coordinate the programme. Recruited GPs will then be allocated to GP practices.
Before any of the doctors start, they will need to pass stringent tests, including an industry-standard English language test. The main focus for recruitment will initially be on countries in the European Economic Area (EEA) where doctors receive automatic recognition to join the General Medical Council’s GP Register. NHS England will also look to attract UK-trained doctors back to the UK. The process of recruiting the new GPs should take three years.
Geoff Day, Head of Primary Care Commissioning at NHS England (North Yorkshire and the Humber) said: “We’re delighted to be announcing this extra funding to recruit talented doctors from overseas to work in general practice in England. We see this as an important project and it is part of a number of initiatives we are supporting to build capacity and resilience into primary care, such as recruiting more clinical pharmacists to be based in GP practices, and developing the GP Career Plus scheme encouraging GPs to continue in practice.”
Dr Dan Roper, Chair of NHS Hull Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “NHS Hull CCG is a fully committed member of this partnership and we look forward to welcoming as many new GPs as possible from both home and abroad. This scheme gives us the opportunity to attract and recruit high quality graduates from the EEA and allows us to promote the benefits of living in this exciting, beautiful and up and coming area.”
NHS Scarborough and Ryedale Clinical Commissioning Group Chief Officer, Simon Cox, said: “Like many other parts of the country, there is a shortage of GPs across Scarborough and Ryedale. While the evidence shows patients are generally very satisfied with the service they receive from their local GP practice, we know the wait for a routine appointment can sometimes be a source of frustration.
“The International GP Recruitment Programme should go some way towards easing the current pressures in local health provision and is to be welcomed."
Gina Palumbo, Local GP and Chair of East Riding of Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) commented: “The CCG is excited by this NHS England initiative and what it means for the future of GP recruitment in the Humber area. Attracting additional GPs into the East Riding will help to meet increasing demand delivered by more resilient general practices, working in collaboration with our other providers.”
The International GP Recruitment Programme has initially focussed on some of the most hard to recruit areas in England, with Lincolnshire being the most advanced, successfully recruiting nearly 30 doctors into local general practice.
A longlisting exercise, eligibility language assessment and subsequent face to face interview with practices in Lincolnshire were carried out. A matching exercise then ensued and confirmed job offers made. Successful candidates then followed a 12 week residential intensive training programme including language, clinical and practical workshops at a campus in Poland.
Dr Robert Jaggs-Fowler, Medical Director at NHS North Lincolnshire CCG welcomed the commitment to recruit additional GPs. He said: “We share the same difficulties as many areas of the country in recruiting GPs, and many clinicians currently working in North Lincolnshire are coming up to retirement age. Additionally, our population is getting older too and more people are now managing one or more long term health conditions so need to see GPs or practice nurses more frequently.
“This is a great place to live and work as a GP and this new initiative will give doctors from other parts of Europe the opportunity to find out about the many opportunities available to them here and, hopefully, come and join us.”
Dr Peter Melton, Clinical Chief Officer with NHS North East Lincolnshire CCG and Clinical Lead for Humber, Coast and Vale STP, welcomed the commitment to recruit additional GPs and said this would operate alongside the CCG’s own work to encourage doctors to take up exciting opportunities in our area.
“Like most areas of the country, there are difficulties in recruitment and retention of GPs and practice nurses with many clinicians in our area approaching retirement age. This is a great place to live and work as a GP and this new initiative will give doctors from other parts of Europe the opportunity to find out about the many opportunities available to them here.”
As part of the General Practice Forward View, NHS England is reversing the historic underinvestment in general practice. An extra £2.4 billion will be invested nationally into general practice each year - a 14% real terms rise by 2021.
There will be at least 10,000 more staff working in general practice by 2020/21 - 5,000 more doctors and 5,000 other staff like clinical pharmacists, nurses, and physicians associates. It will mean bigger teams of staff providing a wider range of care options for patients and freeing up more time for GPs to focus on those with more complex needs.
To find out more about the International GP Recruitment Programme visit the NHS England website: https://www.england.nhs.uk/gp/gpfv/workforce/building-the-general-practice-workforce/international-gp-recruitment. For more information about NHS England’s General Practice Forward View visit: https://www.england.nhs.uk/gp/gpfv.