• Scheme would see NHS trusts contribute £16,000 towards training costs for each recruit as well as paying salary
  • Trusts have agreed to host 20 doctors this year but local leaders believe there is potential scheme to be significantly expanded
  • A&E departments under severe strain in recent weeks and medical staffing levels have been longstanding concern

A new placement scheme has been designed to encourage doctors from India to work in Greater Manchester’s emergency departments, HSJ has learned.

The project, supported by Health Education England, would involve NHS trusts in the region contributing £16,000 towards the training costs for each recruit, as well as paying their salary.

Andrew_Foster

Andrew_Foster

Andrew Foster said HEE’s involvement gives the project ‘national endorsement and respectability’

The middle grade doctors would be placed in emergency departments for 2-3 years while completing their training in emergency medicine, before returning to India.

Trusts have agreed to host 20 doctors this year, but local leaders believe there is potential for the scheme to be significantly expanded over time.

The region’s eight accident and emergency departments have been under severe strain in recent weeks and medical staffing levels have been longstanding concern.

The project is being run by the Greater Manchester devolution team and Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Foundation Trust, which already has an “international training fellowship scheme” for other specialities such as trauma and orthopaedics.

The doctors which fill these placements pay the full course fees of £36,000. However, emergency medicine is only recently emerging as a specialty in India, which is why it has previously been difficult to extend the scheme, and why an extra financial incentive is needed.

Andrew Foster, chief executive of Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh FT, told HSJ: “This has been a 12 year programme and has been extremely successful, but the big challenge has been expanding it to pick up emergency doctors as well.”

He said the region’s A&E departments each need 10-12 middle grade doctors to fill their rotas, but “I’d expect very few have got more than two or three permanent middle grades, so they’re very reliant on locums”.

HEE’s involvement gives the project “national endorsement and respectability”, which could help expand the programme nationally, and there is “talk about the possibility of getting 200 [trainees] from India and the same number from Pakistan”, Mr Foster said.

Ged Byrne, director of education and quality for HEE in the North West, said: “This work is helping to increase the number of doctors who are available to support acutely ill patients. The relationship benefits both the UK as it helps to fill an immediate need and the doctors themselves who gain access to high quality training and a unique skills set.”