The NHS will need to utilise the UK’s Tier 2 work permit scheme in order to recruit the 2,000 foreign doctors needed to meet UK government targets, according to Simon Stevens, head of NHS England.
According to Mr Stevens, four times the planned number of 500 extra doctors are needed to fight the skills shortages facing the NHS, with many healthcare professionals expected to travel from countries such as Australia and New Zealand on a UK Tier 2 work permit.
Speaking in an interview, Mr Stevens suggested that retirements are one of the biggest causes of skills shortages across the NHS, prompting the organisation to set a target of recruiting 5,000 additional non-EU GPs by 2020 via the Tier 2 work permit scheme.
“Despite signs of progress with the number of doctors in the GP training scheme, retirements are creating real pressures,” said Mr Stevens. “EU doctors will also be targeted as part of an international recruitment drive that the NHS plan to launch in the autumn.”
According to Dr Richard Vautrey, acting chairman of the British Medical Association’s GP committee, the announcement from the head of NHS England highlights the failure of the government to meet its own GP recruitment target from within the British medical sector.
Mr Vautrey added that the hiring of overseas doctors could be the only way to boost resources and release pressure while coping with the rising demand currently being experienced by many British communities.
“For decades, overseas doctors have brought their expertise to the UK, making a valuable contribution to the NHS. This is especially true for general practice, where there’s a proven track record of providing first-class patient care.”