Several Hundreds of General Practitioners (GPs) are set to being sourced from India to assist in providing the growing demand-supply gap in general practice and meet a UK government pledge to add 5,000 doctors by 2020.
The Health Education England (HEE), the non-departmental body of the Department of Health responsible for the National Health Service (NHS) training, has signed an MoU with Apollo Hospitals, a major hospital chain in India. According to Pulse, the primary care magazine, the deal with Apollo Hospitals will involve the transfer of up to 400 GPs to England.
According to Apollo Hospitals management these are initial discussions but they also look forward to announce the outcomes of this work over the coming months and years as it progresses. The move to recruit GPs abroad comes after doctors' leaders claimed this week general practice is "crisis" and warned that the sector is nearing "saturation point”. Workloads increased by over 15% over the last seven years as family doctors in England deal with more frequent and longer consultations while the rate of GPs has decreased, according to a major study in The Lancet.
However, the provisions such as bypassing training and exams to start as soon as possible have rasied quality concerns. Dr Umesh Prabhu, former chair and current member of the British International Doctors Association executive committee and a consultant pediatrician in Wigan, warned that the Apollo deal was "a dangerous move”. According to Dr Umesh, “These doctors are not trained to be GPs in the UK and my biggest worry is around vulnerable patients, such as child abuse. Their training is entirely different. I have concerns for the doctors' safety and the patients' safety". His views were also eched by other prominent practitioners also. Dr Maureen Baker, Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said any doctors arriving from outside the EU would have to pass the GMC's Professional Linguistic and Assessments Board test, adding that "Any suggestions that they will simply be 'parachuted in' to practice in the UK is grossly misleading".
The optimistic Chennai-based, Apollo Hospitals said it signed the memorandum as a "starting point" to explore how both countries can benefit from "the mutual exchange of ideas and clinical staff in improving the education and training of healthcare staff" and patient care. Apollo Hospitals, employs over 40,000 people and has a 500m turnover, also offers a diploma in family medicine which is accredited by the Royal College of General Practitioners.
The NHS is one of the world's largest publicly funded health services in the UK and it remains free at the point of use for all UK residents. This currently stands at more than 64.6 million people