Government faces challenge in meeting target for recruiting overseas GPs

The Government faces a significant challenge in meeting its target of recruiting between 2,000 and 3,000 additional overseas GPs by 2020 as it to turns to agencies to help with a £100m recruitment drive.

According to the Financial Times, the NHS will pay agencies up to £100m to recruit GPs from abroad, with fees of around £20,000 per GP given to agencies that will start recruiting in this autumn. A contract notice posted by NHS England revealed that 2,000-3,000 doctors are anticipated to come from overseas, with agencies winning the contract charged with identifying, screening and interviewing potential candidates, in addition to providing relocation services.

HCL was one of the agencies named that could be in line to land the contract with government.

Commenting on the challenges in hitting the government’s target, Claire Billenness, director at HCL Workforce, told Recruiter: “It’s an expensive process, it’s long, it’s drawn-out, and there are multiple tests that these GPs have to go through.

“We know this is going through a tendering process at the moment, and that undoubtedly puts downward pressure on the agencies on pricing.”

Billenness also challenged the figure quoted by the FT of £100m, claiming this figure is likely to be based on frameworks that are at least three years old.

“It costs £500,000 to train a GP and seven years to do it, so £20,000 versus £500,000 and six months versus probably five, six, seven years – you start to see the context around it.

“We’ve got a here-and-now problem that needs fixing.”

Meanwhile Olivia Spruce, director at TFS Healthcare, while not being able to confirm if TFS would tender for the framework, called the government’s target “ambitious”.

“From a commercial perspective, I can’t confirm whether or not TFS Healthcare is tendering for this framework,” she said. 

“To employ 2,500 foreign GPs over a 3.5-year timescale, among only eight agencies, which haven’t been awarded yet – the tender process has only just started – is highly ambitious, and fees of around £20,000 per GP feels very speculative.

“The challenges are the recruitment and talent attraction, and the retention of this talent.”

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