Lincolnshire health bosses look to Europe to plug GP shortage

Health bosses in Lincolnshire are looking to recruit doctors from Europe to help with a chronic shortage of GPs in the county.

The county’s Local Medical Committee wants to fill about 80 vacancies in a pilot scheme that could eventually be rolled out across the UK.

Only 337 out of 417 GP positions in Lincolnshire are currently filled.

Medical Director Dr Kieran Sharrock said recruiting from overseas is the only sustainable option.

Dr Sharrock said: “Tired and overworked clinicians are more likely to make mistakes. GPs who are tired and overworked are also more likely to leave the profession, exacerbating the problem.”

A report written by Dr Sharrock also found the majority of practices in the county had been unsuccessful in recruiting GPs in the last year.

On plans to bring doctors from Europe, he said: “Initially, we would want to bring 15 to 20 doctors over here, and run it as a pilot.

“This will enable us to make sure we have the right processes in place to support them with things like training and housing.

“Once we’ve tried it, we want to roll it out and fill all the vacancies – then roll it out to other counties and areas across the UK.”

Dr Gordon Warnes, who has worked in Gainsborough for over 25 years, said the scheme aimed to rectify things, “but it shouldn’t have to come to this.”

“The natural thing is to get our own doctors – be nice to them and treat them responsibly, which will encourage them to stay and train as GPs,” he said.

Dr Warnes, who plans to retire this year, said the workload and pressures of the job were prompting many doctors to take early retirement.

It is hoped the first appointments can be made within three to six months, if the plans get the necessary approval from NHS England, officials said.

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