Dozens of overseas GPs set to arrive in Kent to help ease pressure on health service
PUBLISHED: 14:31 22 August 2017 | UPDATED: 14:32 22 August 2017
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The county has been selected as one of 11 areas to take part in an expansion of NHS England's international recruitment
Dozens of GPs from overseas are set to arrive in the county over the coming months as bosses speed up their international recruitment programme to meet the growing health crisis.
Kent and Medway has been selected as one of 11 areas nationwide to take part in NHS England’s expansion, which will see around 600 foreign doctors recruited into general practice in 2017/18.
NHS England is 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.
Many areas of Kent have reported suffering a shortage of GPs and a surgery in Folkestone which serves some 5,000 patients announced earlier this year it is to close in November.
It is not clear yet how many of the 2,000 will be recruited in Kent, nor how quickly they will be arriving.
Dr James Thallon, medical director for NHS England South East, said: “Most new GPs will continue to be trained in this country but the NHS has a proud history of ethically employing international medical professionals, with one in five GPs currently coming from overseas.
“This scheme will deliver new recruits to help improve services for patients in Kent and Medway and reduce some of the pressure on hard working GPs across the area.”
“The doctors will be expected to meet the highest standards of practice, including being able to speak good English, and support will be in place to ensure this as well as being offered help with the relocation of their families.”
The expanded international recruitment scheme will initially focus on doctors in the European Economic Area, whose GP training is recognised in the UK under European law and already get automatic recognition to join the General Medical Council’s GP Register.
The government says the programme will help deliver the commitment set out in the General Practice Forward View action plan that will see 5,000 more GPs and 5,000 more medical professionals working in general practice by 2020, when an extra £2.4 billion will be spent on general practice each year – a 14 per cent real terms rise.
The announcement comes as bosses delayed the process of public consultation on a masterplan for the health service in Kent and Medway.
The Sustainability and Transformation Plan aims to see the NHS work more closely with other partners such as Kent County Council and Medway Council, but a combination of the snap general election and a reluctance to publish proposals just before Christmas means the plans will now not be fully made public until next year.