Overseas doctors wooed as Essex GPs

DOCTORS from overseas are to be targeted in a GP recruitment drive designed to fill vacancies in Essex surgeries.But one of the county's MPs said the move highlighted government failures over the years in training enough doctors in Britain.

DOCTORS from overseas are to be targeted in a GP recruitment drive designed to fill vacancies in Essex surgeries.

But one of the county's MPs said the move highlighted government failures over the years in training enough doctors in Britain.

Speaking at a meeting of the Essex Strategic Health Authority, Dr Brian Balmer outlined plans to target overseas doctors to help meet shortfalls across the county.

Dr Balmer, GP recruitment and retention campaign project director for the Essex Workforce Development Confederation (EWDC), recently conducted a survey into local GP provision.


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"There is a GP shortage right across the country and Essex is no exception," he said. The EWDC has been working with Primary Care Trusts, looking at the problems and possible solutions.

"We have now come up with concrete plans and achieved the financial backing we need to implement these."

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Some £200,000 was allocated to trying to attract the foreign doctors, particularly from the area of northern Spain.

Other measures to be taken include establishing the country's first recruitment and retention collaborative, as well as introducing improved training so more doctors can become specialist GPs.

Dr Balmer, also chief executive of the Essex Local Medical Committees, stressed that GP recruitment in Essex was a pressing matter.

But Colchester Liberal Democrat MP Bob Russell, who was at the meeting at Colchester's Moot Hall, said he felt the targeting of overseas doctors should not be necessary.

"In a global market we should not necessarily be upset, but I would be a lot happier if our doctors were going around the world in similar numbers," he said.

"Britain has failed to train enough doctors and now we are having to scurry around. Ours is the fourth richest economy in the world. We should be in a position of exporting doctors, not importing them out of necessity."

Two years ago the Tendring District encountered problems with GP numbers. But after an "aggressive" recruitment campaign the Primary Care Trust managed to recruit and appoint 14 new GPs.

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