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UK: Foreign GPs flown in for one in ten areas

I thought this was an interesting article. Truth is that not enough young people are interested in qualifying as doctors in the UK so there is a shortage. I guess you can present any news as you want it to appear....


One in ten primary care trusts is flying in GPs from abroad to cover
out-of-hours shifts because of a shortage of willing local doctors,
an investigation by The Times has found.

Although there are often qualified GPs within the local area, trusts
have spent more than £1 million in the past two years on GPs from
all over Europe, including Germany, Poland and Lithuania.

Some of the foreign doctors were paid the same as local locum GPs
while others were very well rewarded and received thousands of
pounds for just a few days' work. Last year alone 119 overseas GPs
covered out-of-hours shifts in England and Wales.

Doctors, patient groups and MPs say that the reliance on GPs from
other countries is a direct result of the revised GP contract
produced in April 2004. This allowed family doctors to opt out of
providing a 24-hour service in return for a salary sacrifice of
£6,000 each – half what the service costs to provide. Most GPs
seized this chance, leaving trusts responsible for care at evenings
and weekends.

Michael Taylor, who chairs the Family Doctor Association,
said: "Very few GPs want to do the antisocial shifts. I think
overseas doctors are perfectly capable of handling emergency cover
but for routine care cover they are not capable. When it comes to
complex issues, such as mental health problems, family issues,
addictions, it is more difficult for the patient to trust the
overseas locum."

The Times submitted freedom-of-Information requests to the 152 PCTs
in England and Wales. In total, 17 PCTs, including North Lancashire,
Dorset, Portsmouth City Teaching and Somerset, all said that they
had employed overseas agency GPs at some point in the past two
years. The amount spent in 2006-07 was £879,149, a rise of 244 per
cent on the previous year's total of £255,530.

Of all the PCTs, Halton & St Helens spent the most. According to the
trust, the cost of providing eight Polish GPs for a 12-month period
was £366,042.50. A spokeswoman said: "The decision to purchase the
services provided by Devon Doctors [which provides the Polish GPs]
was on the basis of a full and robust evaluation of their bid and
their ability to provide a quality, safe and affordable service to
Halton residents."

About nine million patients require out-of-hours care in England
each year, but the Department of Health claims that more than six
million patients are currently unhappy with their surgery opening

Roger Goss, co-director of Patient Concern, a watchdog, said: "These
figures from The Timesprove that GPs couldn't believe how lucky they
were with the [2004] contract. They also show that continuity of
care, which should be at the core of a GP service, has gone for

While some PCTs were helpful, many were reluctant to disclose
information. Initially, The Times contacted the ten strategic health
authorities in England and Wales, which directed the paper to the
152 PCTs. Of these organisations, many provided only the contact
details of the agencies employed by them to hire overseas out-of-
hours GPs. So The Times called 40 agencies. A large proportion,
including Primecare, did not return calls.

Last month it emerged that Piotr Robinski, a 40-year-old GP from
Poznan, makes a 13-hour trip from Poland every other Friday to
Aberdeen to provide cover for GPs. Dr Robinski can earn up to £200
an hour in Britain on Bank Holidays, though the normal rate is
nearer £80.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: "PCTs have a legal
obligation to provide safe, high-quality out-of-hours care. They are
free to recruit GPs subject to those conditions. The big increase in
the number of UK-trained GPs should mean less need for recruiting

Re: UK: Foreign GPs flown in for one in ten areas

Moron Brown's enlightened guidance of the country.

There's no shortage of GPs at all - it's just that the govt gave them a big pay rise and told them to work fewer hours.

I think this calls for a little celebration, don't you?

Mind you, if Brits want crappy leaders, they can have them! Their choice - they get what they deserve.

Re: UK: Foreign GPs flown in for one in ten areas

I've never voted Labour. But as a leader Brown isn't bad. Certainly not stupid.

Re: UK: Foreign GPs flown in for one in ten areas

"There's no shortage of GPs at all - it's just that the govt gave them a big pay rise and told them to work fewer hours."

That was negotiated during Blair's time in office. This is Brown's take on things :

extended hours latest

I'd agree with Angela on this. There seems to be a tighter control of public services since Brown took position.