NHS to recruit doctors from ‘Down Under’

NHS England is going to recruit doctors from ‘Down Under’ in the latest initiative to boost GP numbers.

The international recruitment drive is being widened to Australia after the NHS successfully encouraged applications from more than 1,200 GPs in Europe.

NHS England will target GPs who left the UK for Australia and are looking to come home, as well as Aussie GPs who want the opportunity to live in Britain and work for one of the best health services in the world.

Dominic Hardy, NHS England’s Director of Primary Care Delivery, said: “It’s no secret the NHS needs to recruit more GPs, so it makes sense to head to Australia where doctors’ skills, training and high levels of care closely match those of their British counterparts.

“The recruitment programme is gathering momentum with interest from GPs in Europe and we also have more home-grown GPs in training than ever before. But why stop there when we know many Australians would welcome the opportunity to work in an English clinical practice?”

Another 700 doctors have now applied to join an improved induction and refresher scheme, including more than 200 from overseas.  These are domestically trained doctors whose membership has lapsed and have not practised for two years or more, as well as new international doctors who are joining for the first time. The NHS England scheme helps support doctors back into general practice and provides an introduction into general practice for international GPs.

Dominic Hardy added: “We are pulling out all the stops to solve the shortage of GPs that’s why we are commissioning two specialist UK recruitment agencies to target Aussie doctors and stretch our search for top talent from Europe to the other side of the world. Our message is that we want to encourage doctors to think about practising as a GP in England and we will support them all the way.”

The recruitment agencies will use targeted advertising to encourage Aussie doctors to apply to come to England. New recruits from overseas will be offered enhanced relocation packages and other assistance.

Potential Aussie GPs could also see the application procedure cut from a year to around three months. That is a result of a new streamlined Certificate of Eligibility for GP Registration (CEGPR) announced by the RCGP and GMC.

Details of the streamlined recruitment plan were given today to delegates at the RCGP annual conference being staged in Glasgow.

The RCGP’s chair, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, said: “Australia is the first country we have evaluated because we know their training and experience is similar to that of the UK and there are doctors wanting to come to the UK but it has always been an arduous process for them. The streamlined system is intended to cut out a huge amount of bureaucracy, and bring these doctors into placements and work much quicker than before.”

Una Lane, the GMC’s Director of Registration, added: “Overseas doctors already make a huge contribution to UK health care, and the GMC has worked with the RCGP to streamline the process and to reduce the bureaucracy for doctors in Australia who want to work here.

“As standards in Australia are similar to our own it should be as easy as possible for doctors from there to come to the UK, while at the same time maintaining the high standards that patients rightly expect from their GPs.”

The latest statistics on NHS staff from overseas, published in the House of Commons library in February, show there are currently 2,040 Australians working for the NHS. And 62,000 NHS staff in England are EU nationals – 5.6% of all staff. The most common non-British nationalities are: Indian 18,348; Philippine 15,391; Irish 13,016; Polish 8,477 and Spanish 6,781.