‘Attract more, not fewer, GPs to UK’ academics say

GP’s are calling for easier access to doctors outside of the UK as potential immigration restrictions following Brexit and the reduction of EU expats could add to growing shortage crisis.

GP immigration restriction crisis
The government should be encouraging, rather than discouraging, overseas doctors to come to Britain to work in general practice in the National Health Service, suggested leading academics.

Immigration policy: to decrease or increase restrictions

Publishing research showing that just over a fifth of GPs in England were trained outside the UK, the University of Manchester academics said that the Brexit vote had resulted in government tightening immigration policy at a time when, in fact, ministers should be doing more “to support and harness international talent in alleviating the growing GP crisis”.Published in the journal BMC Medicine, the research found that doctors from the European Economic Area worked longer hours than UK-trained ones, while GPs from other parts of the world worked longer hours still.It was also found that the practices of the 21.1 per cent of non-UK trained GPs working in the UK were concentrated in the most deprived inner city areas of the UK, including London, the East, and NW and NE England.
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Immigration viewed as a solution to GP shortage

Prof Aneez Esmail, lead author of the study and professor of general practice at Manchester University, said, “Overseas doctors have always been part of the solution and have provided a valuable remedy to the shortage of GPs in England, this needs to be acknowledged by policy-makers and our politicians.“Rather than tightening immigration policy, the Department of Health should do more to support and harness international talent in alleviating the growing GP crisis.“The ongoing crisis in GP recruitment resulted in a promise of 5,000 more GPs by 2020 in the run-up to the 2015 elections. However, there was no increase between 2015 and 2016, so it is unclear how this target will be met in the context of hardening public attitudes to immigration.“An additional promise of 1,500 new medical graduates per year from 2018 is not enough to meet the 2020 target, it will take at least 10 years for new GPs to be trained, assuming that more than the current 30 per cent of UK graduates choose to become GPs.“This is the first investigation to evaluate the characteristics of the populations served by non-UK qualified GPs. Members of this largely undervalued group of doctors are sometimes marginalised or even stigmatised, but our study shows that they are a hard working group serving the most deprived areas of England.“They are part of the solution to the recruitment crisis facing general practice and that needs to be acknowledged by policy makers and politicians.”

Recruitment and the Brexit paradox

The research analysed data on 37,792 GPs in England. Evangelos Kontopantelis, senior author of the study, said, “The workforce crisis affecting recruitment and retention in general practice is likely to worsen over the next ten years.“Our findings point towards a Brexit ‘paradox’: the more deprived parts of the UK population that voted for Brexit are the ones that will be primarily affected by the inability of the NHS to replace older, non-UK qualified GPs following Brexit and new policy-restrictions on immigration.”A Department of Health spokesman said, “We are determined to ensure we have the right numbers of GPs in every area of the country – from next year trainees will be offered £20,000 to work in hard-to-recruit-to areas and NHS England is recruiting 2,000 GPs from overseas.“Last year we recruited the highest ever number of GP trainees as we expand medical training places by 25 per cent and we’re backing the profession with an extra £2.4 billion in funding.”For related news and features, visit our Immigration section.Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centreAccess hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory  

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