The chief executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens, said that the National Health Service will recruit around 2,000 more GPs from the EU and overseas countries including Australia and New Zealand to meet its staffing targets.
The General Practitioners Committee (GPC) said that the recruitment of 2000 more GPs meant the government was ‘effectively conceding they cannot meet their own target’ of recruiting 5,000 extra GPs by 2020.
The new target figure of 2,000 GPs from overseas is 4 times the figure first defined in 2016 plans for the International GP Recruitment Programme. Plans in the GP Forward View, published in April 2016, were to see around 500 GPs recruited from overseas by 2020.
In an interview with the Health Service Journal (HSJ), Simon Stevens said that efforts were being stepped up to motivate GPs to come to the United Kingdom.
Although there are some good signs of progress on increases in the GP training scheme, but there are real pressures around retirements, he added.
The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) welcomed the NHS England’s aim of recruiting about 2,000 more GPs from overseas. It said more also needs to be done to retain current GPs, and to encourage those taking a career break to return to practice.
The chair of the RCGP, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, said that 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'.
She further added that the promised extra £2.4bn a year for GP and 5,000 more full-time equivalent GPs by 2020 must be delivered as a matter of urgency.
The acting chairman of the British Medical Association's GP committee, Dr Richard Vautrey said that the Overseas doctors have provided a valuable contribution to the NHS, especially in general practice where they have a strong track record of providing first-class patient care.
Currently, General practice is under unsustainable pressure from increasing patient demand, falling resources and extensive staff shortages. So, the NHS need a long-term solution that addresses these workload pressures which lead to low morale amongst current GPs and create a environment which is putting off medical graduates from choosing general practice as a career.
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