SWINDON health chiefs have welcomed a scheme to bring in GPs from abroad.
The plans by NHS England aim to recruit 2,000 new doctors from overseas within the next three years.
Bosses at Swindon’s Clinical Commissioning Group suggested that the scheme might help tackle “significant pressures” on the recruitment of GPs in the town.
Last month, it was revealed that Swindon faces a shortfall of around 25 GPs. Leading doctors blamed a “perfect storm” of gruelling hours, growing pressure and pricey insurance for the shortage.
NHS England said on Tuesday that it planned to recruit around 600 doctors from overseas into general practice by April next year.
The recruitment drive is part of plans to boost the number of GPs nationwide by 5,000 before 2020.
A GP International Recruitment Office has been set up to run the global recruitment operation, NHS England said. Initially, recruits will come from the European Economic Area, as their GP qualifications are already recognised in the UK.
For GPs recruited from further afield, the Royal College of GPs and the General Medical Council will review the GP training curriculum and assessment process – with hopes that doctors from countries like Australia can be fast-tracked through the system.
Dr Arvind Madan, NHS England’s director of primary care, said: “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 and reduce some of the pressure on hard working GPs across the country.”
He said that the majority of GPs would continue to be trained in UK medical schools.
NHS England have already identified 11 English counties and areas where GPs would be posted from abroad. Swindon is not among these areas, which instead include Cambridgeshire, Kent and South East London.
However, the move by NHS England has been applauded by the organisation responsible for paying for the healthcare of Swindon and Shrivenham’s 232,000 residents.
Dr Peter Mack, clinical chair of Swindon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “There continues to be significant pressures within primary care with the recruitment and retention of GPs which is seen across the country as well as in Swindon.
“We welcome any initiative from NHS England that supports primary care and its workforce, including the international recruitment of overseas doctors.
“Swindon CCG is already working collaboratively with local GP practices around recruitment and are prioritising projects which are defined with the GP Forward View, including the international recruitment scheme.”