NHS to launch foreign GP recruitment drive to combat doctor shortage
Health service bosses are to ramp up recruitment of family doctors from overseas to plug gaps in the NHS workforce.
Last year NHS England targeted signing up 500 foreign GPs, but that target has now quadrupled to 2,000.
The head of NHS England, Simon Stevens, said the move was crucial if the service is to hit a target of recruiting 5,000 more GPs overall by 2020.
Recent figures suggest the overall number of family doctors has been in decline.
“Although there are some good signs of progress on increases in the GP training scheme, nevertheless there are real pressures around retirements," he told Health Service Journal.
“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.”
Mr Stevens said doctors could come from EU countries "and possibly New Zealand and Australia".
Recent figures from NHS digital suggest the headline number of GPs fell from 34,914 last March to 34,372 in March of this year.