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NHS £100m international recruitment drive misses its first target by 500 GPs

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By Alex Matthews-King Health Correspondent

Although plans were drawn up by NHS England to recruit 600 GPs before April 2018, only 100 have been employed

The NHS has admitted that it is already a long way behind target in its bid to recruit thousands of GPs from Europe and further afield.Last year NHS England announced a £100m international recruitment drive, which was intended to provide as many as 3,000 of the 5,000 additional GPs, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt pledged to recruit by 2020.Officials had originally set their sights set on having 600 GPs in post by April 2018, but papers released this week show they will only manage 100.

NHS England’s national director of primary care, Dr Arvind Madan, had set the early target in an interview with GP magazine Pulse. “Our ambitions now are for 2,000 international doctors by 2020 – that’s up from the original figure of 500,” he told the magazine last August, when he launched the scheme.

“In this financial year we’re looking to recruit 600 doctors.”

But an official update released ahead of NHS England’s board meeting last week, revealed this ambition has been revised.

“The international GP recruitment programmes are reporting that a total of 100 GPs are expected to be recruited by 31 March 2018,” papers said.

The international recruitment drive was itself a temporary measure, aimed at making the distant 5,000 GP target a reality.

Many GPs are quitting the workforce and The Independentrevealed last November that there were 1,200 fewer  family doctors than when Mr Hunt made his 5,000 extra GPs commitment back in 2015.