A new incentive scheme provided by Health Education England (HEE) will offer 100 prospective GP trainees the opportunity to take 12 months paid work experience in South Africa as part of their overall GP training.
This Global Health Fellowship GP training scheme has been introduced with the intention of going live in February 2017.
It provides trainees with a tantalising opportunity to experience one of the most physically attractive countries on the planet, along with one of the warmest and most hospitable climates.
The GP National Recruitment Office (GPNRO) website indicates that there are 133 places available on the GHF scheme, alongside 479 normal training posts in England.
This could potentially assist the NHS with its ongoing challenge to attract new trainees to the profession, as the health service grapples with many potential doctors opting for other careers or countries.
Previous reports have suggested that there were significantly less vacancies available on offer in England, but the latest data, including these new South African places, suggests that there could be more training opportunities available than has been suggested elsewhere.
In addition to the vacancies in England, 101 places are also currently being advertised in Scotland, 44 in Wales and six in Northern Ireland, as the NHS across Britain aims to recruit more doctors.
Trainees on the GHF programme will have their training extended by 12 months; up to four years total.
With the extra year – which runs between their second (ST2) and third year (ST3) of GP training – being spent in rural South Africa, it is hoped that this prestigious opportunity will attract new trainees to the profession.
During the time that trainees spend in the African continent, it will be possible for those participating to occupy various hospital posts within the nation, with a particular focus on obstetrics, paediatrics and emergency medicine.
The South African government will fund pay ‘broadly equivalent’ to an NHS salary during the year, although the precise meaning of this phraseology has not been made entirely clear.
HEE will require individuals participating in the South African experiment to keep what it describes as a ‘reflective diary’, while a relatively simple project will also be conducted during the placement year.
The scheme is one of nine initiatives HEE announced earlier this year designed to incentivise GP careers and make it ‘easier than ever’ to apply for GP posts.
HEE outlined the conditions of the programme in a statement on its website.
“Under the scheme, GP training programme duration will be extended by 12 months, unless applicants are also attending the Diploma in Tropical Medicine course, when it will be extended by 15 months. The scheme is run through Africa Health Placements and [trainees] will be paid broadly equivalent to an NHS salary. Successful Global Health candidates will rotate through bespoke hospital posts, such as obstetrics & gynaecology, paediatrics and emergency medicine. All successfully appointed candidates will return to a guaranteed ST3 post to complete GP training.”