UK Looks Abroad As it Faces Shortage of Doctors, Nurses

Indian medical practitioners make up 9 per cent of National health Service, the publicly-funded healthcare system in Britain.


India is among the top countries being looked at, as United Kingdom’s health officials launch an international drive to recruit at least 2,000 general medical practitioners over the next three years. Britain is currently facing, what health officials says, is a “desperate shortage” of doctors and nurses.

Making up about 9 per cent of the National Health Service (NHS), India has been a source of medical professionals in the public-funded healthcare system in the United Kingdom. This 9 per cent — 25,342 of them — got their medical qualifications in India.

Recruitment Drive

There are several ongoing programmes for medical professionals from India, some of which are coordinated by British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO), according to a Hindustan Times report. The latest drive is for general practitioners, who form the nucleus of NHS. The organisation is now also looking at other countries to fill the shortage.

“Obviously India has been a very important part of the NHS throughout our history, but the latest drive will initially look for GPs in the European Union, where GP training meets UK standards,” the publication quoted a spokesperson of NHS England as saying.

“Workload in general practice is escalating – it has risen 16% over the last seven years – yet investment in our service has declined and we are desperately short of GPs and nurses,” Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said.

“We welcome any GP from the EU or further afield who wants to work in UK general practice – as long as they meet the rigorous standards set by the College and General Medical Council…Indeed, thousands of GPs from overseas already work alongside UK GPs, and we are incredibly grateful for their skills and expertise.”

The Case of Indian Doctors

One of the integral health-related bodies in Britain, Health Education England signed a memorandum of understanding  earlier this year with Chennai-based Apollo Hospitals, which includes exchange of clinical staff.

“The (Theresa May) government is desperate; it promised during elections to recruit extra doctors. Now many GPs are retiring, which adds to the already acute staffing situation,” BAPIO president Ramesh Mehta told The Hindustan Times.

The organisation has asked Indian doctors to be wary and not be lured by promises by local agencies. They urged them to seek advice about taking up employment in the NHS.

Historically, Indian doctors have trained and worked in Britain and added value to the medical field. However, there has been a significant drop in the recent years due to visa restrictions. These restrictions are, however, expected to get more lenient while recruiting new doctors to address the severe staff shortage in the NHS.

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