30 / 01 / 2009
NHS East Midlands
Lincolnshire Teaching PCT worked closely with Trent workforce development confederation to recruit Spanish GPs into Lincolnshire to address difficulties in recruiting GPs within the SHA. We drafted a memorandum of understanding between the PCT and GP practices which clearly set out roles and responsibilities of each party during the project.
After research and fact finding, a team from Lincolnshire PCT and the Department of Health went to Spain to meet prospective GPs who wanted to work in Lincolnshire. While there we held a pre-screening weekend in Madrid.
At the same time, we sent an information pack to general practices in Lincolnshire to help match up practices with GPs. We went to Spain with a draft contract of employment for internationally recruited salaried GPs which clearly set out the GPs' terms and conditions once they accepted work in England.
After sifting through candidates in Spain, we invited the Spanish GPs to an assessment weekend at a hotel in Lincolnshire, including the following:
- language assessment
- practice visits
- occupational health issues
- clinical assessments.
We drew up an induction programme for the GPs which followed the Department of Health's guidance and included one week of clinical induction. We found that this clinical induction was important to make sure the GP is supported by a mentor and practice staff to understand NHS procedures and ensure they comply with clinical governance. We also found that ongoing support for the international recruits is crucial, including relocation advice, support for spouses and families, local orientation and networking.
We estimate the costs of the project were about £110,000 plus £8,000 relocation costs for each GP. There were additional costs for the clinical induction, however, this was funded by the Deanery.
The whole process is certainly quite labour intensive and no 'quick fix' to recruitment problems, but the results are impressive. One of the Spanish GPs, commented: "It was a big change coming to Lincolnshire compared to Oviedo, at least the weather is not a challenge for me [Oviedo is a rainy part of Spain], but I have settled down and am really enjoying life as a Lincolnshire GP."
Overall we felt that this project gave us short-term investment for a long-term gain.