NHS England is preparing to tender a framework worth £30m for companies to source 500 GPs from abroad to help tackle the NHS’s shortage, HSJ has learned.

Companies interested in being part of NHS England’s plans will be able to bid to join the framework, which is part of a scheme announced in the General Practice Forward View to get 500 qualified GPs to come to work in the NHS during the next five years.

The tender will run from September 2017 to September 2020 and was published last week ahead of the invitation to tender process opening on 5 July.

The contract, identified by Tussell, which collates a public sector contracts database, will involve an open procedure procurement exercise starting next month.

A notice on the government’s Contracts Finder website said: “Bid submissions from organisations seeking to be part of the framework must be submitted within 30 days. The invitation to tender bid response deadline is expected to be mid-August 2017.”

Under NHS England’s plans the international recruitment project will aim to source clinically competent doctors who have high quality English language skills.

It will aim to recruit GPs from within and outside the EU.

Companies involved will need to help support the GPs, to deliver high retention of those recruited.

The programme was launched by NHS England on 1 April.

NHS England has committed to fund the cost of recruiting, relocating and training overseas doctors as part of the programme. The salaries for these GPs will be agreed locally and paid by the practices that employ them.

HSJ understands the contracts and support packages for international GPs will vary across the country and will be tailored locally.

The health service is facing a significant GP workforce crisis with the latest NHS England data showing nearly a hundred practices closed in 2016.

Health Education England has committed to increasing the numbers of GP trainees and recruited more than 3,000 trainees in 2016, which was short of its 3,250 target.