Doctors from overseas are being recruited to fill gaps in GP practices across Cambridgeshire.
NHS England has set aside more than £2 million to recruit additional medics for GP practices across the county and the wider region.
Dr Alistair Lipp, medical director at NHS England Midlands and East, said: “Most new GPs will continue to be trained in this country, and general practice will benefit from the 25 per cent increase in medical school places over the coming years.
“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 our patients and reduce some of the pressure on hard working GPs in the area.”
NHS England will commission recruitment providers to identify potential overseas doctors and will support them through the recruitment process.
A national recruitment centre will be set up to work with the recruitment providers and with local commissioners to co-ordinate the programme. Recruited doctors will then be allocated to GP practices.
The NHS has stressed, however, that before any of the doctors start, they will need to pass tests, including an industry-standard English language test.
The main focus for recruitment will initially be on countries in the European Economic Area where doctors receive automatic recognition to join the General Medical Council’s GP register.
Dr Christopher Browning said: “While the evidence shows patients are generally very satisfied with the service they receive from their local GP practice, the International GP Recruitment Programme should go some way towards easing the current pressures in local health provision and is to be welcomed.”
NHS England will also look to attract UK-trained doctors back here. This process should take three years.
Dr Simon Poole, British Medical Association East of England GP representative, said: “Whilst the announcement by the NHS to launch a new pilot in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough to recruit more GPs from overseas will provide some 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.”