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Overseas GP recruitment rush in Kent ‘does not go far enough’, warns BMA

PUBLISHED: 16:05 24 August 2017

Doctor writing prescription

Doctor writing prescription

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NHS England announced this week the county was one of 11 areas nationwide set to benefit from more GPs

Plans by the NHS to recruit dozens of GPs from overseas in Kent “do not go far enough”, according to a major union.

Earlier this week, NHS England announced that Kent and Medway had been selected as one of 11 areas nationwide to take part in an expansion of its international recruitment programme, which will see around 600 foreign doctors recruited into general practice in 2017/18.

Health chiefs are aiming for a total of 2,000 doctors over the next three years, which is a huge increase compared to its initial target of 500 by 2020/21.

However, with many areas of Kent suffering a shortage of GPs and a surgery in Folkestone which serves some 5,000 patients set to close in November, the British Medical Association (BMA) believes local health services will still be feeling the strain even after the influx of new GPs.

Executive committee member, Dr Mark Sanford-Wood, said: “Whilst the announcement by the NHS to launch a new pilot in Kent and Medway to recruit more GPs from overseas will provide some much-needed relief for general practice in the short term, it does not go far enough to address the recruitment crisis underpinning general practice.

“Overseas doctors make a valuable contribution to the NHS and will undoubtedly alleviate some of the pressure on general practice in the region as staff shortages have left many practices struggling to provide enough appointments and services to the public.

“Yet despite repeated promises from the government, the latest figures show only a marginal increase of barely one per cent in the GP workforce in England and many that do work in the NHS are considering quitting the profession as the added stress of working under increasing pressure takes its toll.

“To turn around this desperate situation, and both attract doctors trained in the UK as well as from overseas, the government must take urgent steps to reduce the unsafe workload burden carried by GPs and support them throughout their career so as to encourage them to stay before GP services are pushed to the brink of collapse.”

It is not clear yet how many of the 2,000 GPs will be recruited in the county, nor how quickly they will be arriving.

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