London: Britain's National Health Service (NHS) plans to bring in general practitioners (GPs) from India to tackle a shortage of the health professionals in the UK.
Health Education England (HEE) had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Apollo Hospitals in India last year which is to lead to the transfer of around 400 GPs to England, it emerged today.
"England and India have signed a memorandum of understanding as a starting point to exploring how both countries can benefit from the mutual exchange of ideas. The details of the MoU are still in discussion once we have further confirmed information we will share with you," an HEE statement said.
However, according to GP magazine 'Pulse', the move is directed at meeting the government pledge to recruit 5,000 extra GPs by 2020.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, British Medical Association's General Practitioners Committee chair, said: "Doctors from overseas have always provided a valuable contribution to this country's health system, especially as they undergo a rigorous assessment process to ensure they have the right skills for the NHS.
"However, it is clearly an admission of failure that the government seems to have launched a new recruitment scheme overseas to plug what is clearly a widening gap in the number of home-grown GPs in our workforce."
In a statement, Apollo Hospitals said the MoU would involve an exchange of clinical staff.
It said: "We have signed this Memorandum of Understanding as a starting point to exploring how both countries can benefit from the mutual exchange of ideas and clinical staff in improving the education and training of healthcare staff and therefore the quality of care provided to patients.
"These are initial discussions but we look forward to announcing the outcomes of this work over the coming months and years as it progresses."