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Scotland seeking expat doctors to return from Australia

Scotland is suffering from a shortage of doctors and Scottish health board officials are travelling to Australia in a bid to persuade expat GPs to return back to their homeland.

The NHS Education Scotland delegates are planning on using the 2016 Ottawa medical conference in Perth as an opportunity to come face to face with Scottish expats to spark interest of returning to General Practice in Scotland.

With a spokesperson for NES stating they were going to attend the Ottawa conference anyway as keynote speakers, decisions were made to make the trip an opportunity to target potential recruits to alleviate the shortage issues in Scotland.

An NHS spokesman explained, “Scotland needs its trained GPs back. With the development of a new GMC contract underway, more investment in General Practice, access to the NHS pension scheme and a health service that is arguably one of the best in the world, there is much to commend working as a General Practitioner in Scotland right now.”

For those expats working as GPs in Australia, the process to return to General Practice in Scotland would be seamless – simply a two to four-week induction programme managed by the Health Board whose Performers List they choose to join.

Individuals who have worked in NHS General Practice before and are currently working in a position comparable to that of a GP in the UK (such as Australia, New Zealand or Canada) face no entry assessment and are guaranteed a position shortly after their arrival back in Scotland.

However, Dr Dean Marshall, a member of the GPC executive team and a GP in Edinburgh backed the decision of any GPs wishing to remain abroad. “I can see no reason why these people would want to come back to general practice in Scotland at the moment which has got worse year on year and is now in crisis,” Marshall explains. He added, “What we need to do is concentrate on keeping the ones we’ve got… and the only way that will happen is by properly funding general practice and making the survival of general practice the number one issue in the health service in Scotland.”

Dr Miles Mack, chair of RCGP Scotland fully supports NHS Education for Scotland’s decision to encourage and support GPs considering a return stating, “Scotland needs and wants them and we applaud NES for continuing to reach out a helping hand.”

With some questioning whether the campaign is a guise for a general recruitment drive, Health Education England said it was “sending its research and innovation lead to this conference to engage with and learn from international stakeholders to help shape our understanding of workforce transformation and leadership development.”

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