Scottish Government Targeting Refugee Doctors

The Scottish government has signalled its intention to target refugee doctors from countries such as Iraq and Syria.

This policy will form part of a new retraining programme within the healthcare system in the country, enabling participants to experience general practice conditions.

Over 40 qualified doctors have already signed up for the scheme, with Sudanese, Chinese and Somalian medics also involved.

All participants will be tied to working for NHS Scotland upon completion of their retraining.

The General Medical Committee of Scotland has set language, linguistic and clinical tests for the scheme, ensuring that all those who progress through it are prepared for working environments.

The New Refugee Doctors Project is run by the Bridges programme, and will be funded by £161,692 from the Scottish government.

Professional mentoring in GP practices will also be available throughout the duration of the course.

The funding set aside for the course will be equally distributed towards the provision of English language speaking and funding clinical placements for the candidates.

Six practices in Glasgow have already volunteered to participate in the programme, with four more also having expressed an interest.

Doctors involved with the scheme could be registered with the GMC this summer, with many expected to be distributed to rural practices in Scotland.

The programme has been instigated largely due to recruitment problems in Scotland, with general practice particularly suffering.

One-third of the GPs are reportedly planning to retire from general practice before the end of the decade.

And the Scottish government is already trying to attract GP trainees to hard-to-fill rural, remote and deprived area posts by offering £20,000 ‘golden handshakes’.

Maggie Lennon, founder and director of the Bridges programme, explained the reasons for the scheme.

“Scotland has more than 300 GP vacancies, we sorely need more practitioners. This is one of the reasons were are putting the doctors participating in the scheme in front of GPs.”

While Dr Greg Jones, clinical lead at NHS Education for Scotland, outlined the way that money would be spent.

“The additional funding will be focused on giving doctors on the scheme additional language training to get them up to and through PLAB. We don’t know how many more doctors will join the scheme, it depends on the number of asylum seekers and refugees that are let into the country.”


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