• NHS England yet to begin international GP recruitment scheme for London
  • National commissioner has appointed organisations to begin recruitment to other regions

NHS England has missed its March deadline to begin international GP recruitment in London, HSJ can reveal.

In January, NHS England said it was on track to begin recruitment across the country of 600 GPs from overseas by the end of March 2018, as part of a drive to recruit 2,000 by 2020.

Sources close to the procurement process said NHS England has appointed organisations to begin recruitment in four out of five regions. London is the only region yet to be appointed to.

NHS England announced the expansion of the international GP recruitment scheme from 500 to 2,000 last year and in August published a tender worth £100m for organisations to carry out recruitment.

In January, an NHS England spokesman told HSJ it was “on track to begin recruitment to 600 roles by the end of March 2018”.

HSJ can confirm the national commissioning body has met its deadline to begin recruitment for the North, Midlands and East, South East and South West where recruitment companies have been appointed to start the process.

Two of the companies are VPL Healthcare in the Midlands and East and DRC Locums in another region, HSJ understands.

In its February board papers, NHS England said it had recruited 100 GPs as part of the programme. But this was prior to the appointment of the recruitment companies in March.

NHS England’s timeline is to recruit up to 600 doctors in 2017-18; up to 1,000 in 2018-19; and between 400 and 1,000 in 2019-20.

The areas targeted for recruitment in 2017-18 are:

  • Humber Coast and Vale;
  • Middleton, Heywood and Rochdale;
  • Staffordshire;
  • Mid Nottinghamshire (Mansfield and Newark);
  • Cambridgeshire and Peterborough;
  • Norfolk and Suffolk;
  • Birmingham and Solihull;
  • Kent and Medway;
  • South East London; and
  • North East London.

A spokeswoman for NHS England said: “Recruitment companies have been appointed across the country for the first stage of the expanded scheme to get at least 2,000 overseas doctors into GP practices by 2020. A contract for London will be in place imminently.”