Recruitment leaders believe that the NHS will face significant barriers in attracting doctors from Europe following the referendum decision to leave the European Union.
The consultancy Primary Care People (PCP) has stated that doctors may consider alternative locations to the UK, such as the Republic of Ireland.
With sterling having taken something of a hit, and concerns over the freedom of movement to the UK from the Eurozone, GPs from Europe may view the UK as something of a no-go area.
This is particularly worrying considering that a wide variety of evidence suggests that the pressure on general practice in the health service has never been greater.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul told Pulse magazine that leaving the EU would result in significant recruitment red tape for the National Health Service.
“There was certainly a big benefit to being in the EU. There will be more hoops we’ll have to jump through, and there will be more hurdles for candidates to get motivated. Now one of the hurdles we’ll have to overcome is the uncertainty, because no one likes uncertainty and the second thing is the exchange rate – that’s going to be a real concern for these GPs as well.”
Meanwhile, PCP is in talks with NHS England with the hope of striking a national deal, which would help ease the problem to a certain extent.
The GP Forward View has already committed the health service to recruiting 500 doctors from overseas, with the overall intention to train and retain an additional 5,000 GPs by the end of the decade, as pledged by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
Meanwhile, as the Conservative leader ship race hots up, Hunt has been linked with a run for the position of Prime Minister.
The GP Forward View commits NHS England to “a major international recruitment drive”.
Yet it seems increasingly unlikely that the pledge of 5,000 GPs will ultimately be achieved based on existing doctor numbers.
The declining numbers of personnel in the health service is a major problem to general practice, and other key areas such as accident and emergency have also suffered.
It seems to be a massive issue for the NHS to recruit junior doctors, a perception which is only exacerbated by the ongoing junior doctors dispute.
Only recently it was reported that some areas of the country are as much as 40% understaffed in terms of available doctors.
With the demands on the health service set to increase in the coming years due to the greying population, it is clear that the health service faces significant staffing challenges.