Indian doctors may find it tempting to move to the United Kingdom since the National Health Service (NHS) plans to recruit additional doctors to fill up gaps in General Practice (GP) services staffing crisis.

The Health Education England (HEE), the training and recruiting arm of the NHS, has signed a memorandum of understanding asking assistance from Apollo Hospitals. Through the agreement, GP practitioners in India who will pass a series of tests will be eligible for recruitment.

The government tasked HEE to increase the number of family doctors by 5,000 in the next four years, but the agency already behind in accomplishing this target. NHS is now looking for solutions to address the serious shortage of family doctors by recruiting physicians from India.

Though HEE has not finalized the details of the agreement yet, members of the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) said they are aware that the agency was planning to recruit as many family doctors as possible.

Dr. Ramesh Mehta, president of (BAPIO), however, said that trainings for general practice doctors has not been overseen appropriately for the past years and it's a pity that the country plans to seek doctors from other countries. For this to work, doctors who will come from India should be given proper support, training and supervision so they would not commit mistakes like what happened in the past.

"This is a most dangerous thing, because these doctors are not trained to be GPs in the UK," said Dr. Umesh Prabhu, a former chair of the British International Doctors Association. "Their training is entirely different. I have concerns for the doctors' safety and the patients' safety," he added.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has reported that India is the number one exporter of doctors and nurses to the United Kingdom. About 35 percent of NHS doctors were born overseas.

One reason that contributes to the lack of doctors is that they prefer working abroad. In fact, following Germany, the UK is the second highest exporter of health workers. The report said that about 17,000 British doctors are currently working abroad.

Photo: Markus Spiske | Flickr 

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