CCGs are in talks about bringing over GPs from Australia with a relocation package worth £18,500 under NHS England’s international GP recruitment programme.
NHS Birmingham and Solihull CCG has said in board papers that they are in planned talks to become the ‘first pilot’ to recruit GPs from non-EU countries through NHS England’s newly refocused international recruitment plan.
However, NHS England has said the recruits from Australia have chosen to work in a variety of locations.
The GPs moving back to the UK from Australia are set to recieve a relocation package worth £18,500 to cover receipted relocation expenses only.
However, in addition to the relocation package, NHS England has also said it would cover the cost of tier 2 visas for the GP and their family.
NHS England announced two weeks ago that it would be focusing on recruiting international GPs from Australia after the RCGP and GMC finalised plans to shorten the application process.
NHS Birmingham and Solihull CCG board papers from last month state that the CCG has scheduled early talks to discuss being the ‘first pilot site to expand to non EU’ GPs.
However, NHS England told Pulse that a small number of GPs working in Australia are in the early stages of recruitment but are looking to work in a variety of locations.
NHS England was not able to confirm how many Australian GPs have been recruited so far or where they intend to go.
However, it added that the recruitment scheme will target GPs who left the UK for Australia, as well as Australian GPs who want to move to the UK.
All GPs working in Australia – regardless of where they were trained – are able to access the relocation package benefits.
For GPs from outside the EU, NHS England has committed to funding tier 2 visas for the GP and their family, which can cost up to £610 per person.
While no specific amount of money has been set aside to fund the recruitment and no target set for the number of GPs to be brought over from Australia, the recruitment drive will contribute to the 2,000 international GP recruitment target set last year, which was set a £100m budget.
In addition to the relocation package, the GPs will also be supported with £3,500 monthly bursaries, a payment covering the cost of GMC and DBS fees and support finding a practice to sponsor a tier 2 visa.
Dr Krishna Kasaraneni, BMA GP committee executive team workforce lead, welcomed the focus on recruiting Austrialian GPs, adding:
‘There are of course costs associated with relocating and taking up a role – including training, regulation and induction – so it’s only right that these are covered if we are to encourage more GPs to come and work here, not just from Australia but elsewhere across the globe…
‘It is hoped that overseas GPs will come to work in the UK to help deal with workforce shortages, however, more must be done to address the intense workload pressures and funding constraints to attract new doctors to the profession and keep those GPs with the most experience in practice.’
International GP recruitment
NHS England first announced that they would be recruiting 500 GPs from overseas in the GP Forward View in April 2016, with Lincolnshire first implementing the programme to address a local recruitment crisis.
However, last year NHS England expanded the scheme to recruit anywhere between 2,000 and 3,000 GPs from overseas by 2020 – about two thirds of the Government’s target to add an extra 5,000 GPs to the workforce by 2020.
The Government has since shifted focus to recruiting GPs from Australia, after the RCGP and GMC finalised plans to shorten the application process.
International GPs recruited on to the programme are put on to induction and refresher scheme, which finishes with placements in practices of up to six months.
This story was first published on our sister publication Pulse.