International GP Recruitment Programme

As part of the General Practice Forward View (GPFV) commitment to strengthen the primary care workforce, we are delivering an International GP Recruitment Programme, which commenced in April 2017.

The initial focus was to recruit at least 500 suitably qualified doctors into general practice into some of the most hard to recruit areas in England by 2020 including funding the cost of recruiting, relocating and training overseas doctors.

Expansion of the programme

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 working as locums rather than joining a practice as a permanent GP. Some older GPs are also 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. That is why we are working with partners to partly bridge that gap through scaling up targeted international recruitment to a total of 2,000 overseas doctors over the next three years:

  1. By rapidly expanding the current international recruitment programme of doctors from the European Economic Area (EEA) whose GP training is recognised in the UK under European law and already get automatic recognition to join the GMC’s GP Register. The General Practice Forward View, published in April 2016, planned to recruit an extra 500 doctors from overseas by 2020. We will bring forward these plans by approving proposals to start recruitment process for 600 doctors in 2017/18.
  2. Expanding the scale of the programme by having a Framework Agreement of International Recruitment Providers to identify potential overseas doctors and support them through the recruitment process. These companies will be tasked with identifying at least 2,000 doctors working abroad to come and work as a GP in England.
  3. Quickly establishing a GP International Recruitment Office to run this scaled up international recruitment operation. It will coordinate the recruitment, support for, and relocation of recruited doctors, working closely with regional and local colleagues and partner organisations. We will continue to invite proposals from STPs and CCGs, coordinated on behalf of local practices by end of November to be part of this expanded national scheme.
  4. Encouraging over 4,000 current international medical graduates who register to practice in the UK each year to consider applying for GP training places, given that these are not yet filled at 100% levels.
  5. The RCGP, working with the GMC, will now review the curriculum, training and assessment processes for GPs trained outside the EEA, beginning with Australia, to identify whether we can streamline the GP registration process for those doctors whose training is seen as equivalent to the UK GP programme.


Principles of the programme

The programme will work to some fundamental principles:

The offer to doctors

Firstly, England is a great place to live and work.  English general practice is also internationally recognised and nearly nine out of ten patients rate their GP services as good. The General Practice Forward View set out a range of measures to provide stability and improve services for patients and staff while starting to reverse historic underinvestment with an extra £2.4 billion funding each year by 2021 – a 14% real terms rise.

  • Overseas GPs recruited as part of the programme will be supported with dedicated training programmes about general practice in England. Support will also be provided to help with language requirements and meeting the standards of the national Induction and Refresher (I&R) Scheme.
  • GPs applying to the schemes will have an opportunity to meet with staff from recruiting practices and to learn more about the practices and their local areas.
  • Practices involved in the schemes will be offering attractive and competitive salaries.
  • The schemes will also be offering help with relocation for GPs and their families, and on-going support to help them feel at home in England.

Working with partners, we will also:

  • Increase the amount of activity that can be done in the source country, e.g. applications, completing assessments, initial orientation
  • Ramp up the Induction and Refresher Scheme to reflect the increased number of doctors that will be completing the Scheme
  • Make NHS England the proxy employer for visa sponsorship purposes, thereby removing the burden from local practices to negotiate with the Home Office
  • Review the evidence that doctors need to provide to demonstrate that they have the necessary knowledge of the English language to provide a good standard of practice and care in England.

If you are a doctor working overseas and are interested in learning more about the career opportunities on NHS England’s International GP Recruitment Programme, please contact