Health Education England Offering 100 Paid Places for GPs in South Africa

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.”

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Health Education England Releases Data on GP Training Trends

New information released by Health Education England (HEE) indicates that a significant number of younger professionals training to be clinicians have applied for specialist training positions in the NHS.

Data from HEE indicates that over 120 additional additional junior doctors have applied for specialty training, with 170 trainees applying to become GPs.

This represents a small increase in the number of doctors applying for training post following foundation training, with the year-on-year expansion around 2%.

It is also notable that the total occupancy rate for specialty training positions has remained pretty much stable from last year at 90%.

It was in general practice where the largest increase was experienced, with 178 additional additional doctors applying to become GPs; an overall fill rate equivalent to 83%, or 2,691 trainees.

However, despite the apparently positive news, this was still significantly below the target of 3,250 which HEE has set in order to fulfil its overarching aim of attracting 5,000 extra GPs to the profession by 2020.

With this target in mind, a new round of recruitment for doctors will begin later this month.

Meanwhile, emergency medicine recruitment remained stable at a fill rate of 99%, or 317 trainees.

This has been aided by a £50 million program launched by HEE intended to improve the levels of emergency medicine staffing by creating 75 new training posts on an annual basis.

However, nearly one-fifth of psychiatry training places are unfilled based on data released by Health Education England.

This information can be considered important, as it had been feared following the dispute over junior doctors’ contracts that trainees would leave for foreign climes in order to work in overseas healthcare systems.

Indeed, hundreds had applied for certificates from the General Medical Council in order to work abroad.

Leading healthcare professionals were happy to welcome the news, suggesting that it reflected positively on the recruitment policies of the NHS authorities.

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, was optimistic about the data released by Health Education England.

“Employers are reassured to see that the fill rates for medical training programmes have matched previous years. A number of organisations and geographies continue however to face real challenges with vacant medical posts, and they look forward to STP discussions which both alleviate pressure on their services as well as provide support for innovation in their workforce.”

However, although the data can be received positively, it is important to understand that the information does not give any indication requiring the number of doctors who leave training later in their career.

Many royal colleges have already warned of rota gaps at both senior registrar and consultant levels within the healthcare system.

And not all healthcare experts were in accordance with the view that this is a positive indication of the future direction of NHS staffing and training.

Interviewed for comment about the apparent recruitment successes in general practice and emergency medicine, despite the ongoing junior doctor disputes and pressures within the specialties, Andrew Vincent, Partner at Academyst LLP, had an alternative explanation.

“I agree that the behaviour seems contrary to what conditions might suggest. It’s easy when that happens to think you were wrong about the effects of conditions but a more plausible explanation is that a sudden desire to enter a distressed specialty is being driven by motives that aren’t immediately apparent in the figures themselves.”

Vincent continued by giving his personal take on the figures, indicating his view that the data could give a false impression of the actual situation.

“My personal view is that the most likely explanation is that individuals who are thoroughly disgruntled may well see general practice and emergency care as specialties that enable them to move to another health system e.g. Australia, with the greatest ease due to global shortages in these specialties. I would advise HEE and Deaneries to be very cautious about the numbers and perhaps commission some subtle research to better understand just why they have experienced recruitment ease when conditions suggest they should have difficulty. I think it would be dangerous to pat yourself on the back just yet.”

As the junior doctors dispute rumbled on, it was recently announced that there will be a judicial review on the legality of imposing the contractual conditions on healthcare professionals.

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Health Education England extends ultrasound workforce survey

Health Education England (HEE) has extended their call for information to help investigate and identify the extent of shortages in the ultrasound workforce.

Friday 31 July is the new deadline for organisations to submit their information.

The survey has been developed by the Centre for Workforce Intelligence (CfWI) to be completed by services or departments who perform ultrasound either as a direct service or as a tool within another service.

HEE recommends that the survey be completed by the department lead along with HR or the workforce planning lead.

By encouraging departments and leads to complete the survey, you will help ensure that the NHS has the right number of trained staff available to deliver both current and future ultrasound services.

Information is required for all staff groups who are involved in ultrasound service provision, not just sonographers. Departments are asked to provide numbers and levels of full-time equivalent (FTE) posts, including individuals in training, vacant or frozen posts, temporary/agency staff and any expected retirements.

The survey is available to complete on the CfWI website until Friday 31 July 2015.



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HEE/NIHR animation encourages clinical academic careers

New animation which helps healthcare professionals develop their clinical academic careers has been unveiled by Health Education England (HEE) and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

The animation sets out the opportunities on offer to all professions through HEE’s Clinical Academic Careers Framework and the NIHR’s research programmes (funded by HEE).

There are two distinct programmes: (i) the NIHR Integrated Academic Training (IAT) Programme for doctors and dentists, and (ii) the HEE/NIHR Integrated Clinical Academic (ICA) Programme for non-medical healthcare professions. Both programmes allow the opportunity for clinicians to combine their clinical and academic development, and each programme contains awards at different levels, to allow all professions to consider developing a clinical academic career.

The IAT programme is for doctors and dentists and includes academic clinical fellowships, which allow medical and dental trainees in the early stages of training to get involved in research alongside clinical training over three years. For those more advanced in specialty training, who already have a research doctorate and who show potential for a career in academic medicine or dentistry, clinical lectureships are available for up to four years.

Alongside this, the ICA programme offers opportunities to non-medical healthcare professionals via a short introductory internship or a Masters in Clinical Research Studentship. Whilst applications for the annual round of doctoral and post-doctoral awards may have passed for this year, potential applicants are being encouraged to start thinking about their applications in plenty of time.

“We are delighted to have received the number of applications we’ve had to the ICA Programme doctoral and post-doctoral award schemes”, said Professor Nicki Latham, HEE Executive Director of Performance and Development. “We took the decision to widen the range of professions eligible to apply and we are really pleased that everyone has risen to the challenge in submitting applications. I hope this new video will get more people thinking about a clinical academic career and remind everyone planning their applications for next year to allow plenty of time to enable them to be the best they can be.”

The HEE/NIHR animation is available to view on HEE’s YouTube channel.

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New HEE film makes patient safety the number one healthcare concern

As part of its remit to improve safety in the NHS through the delivery of its education and training work, Health Education England (HEE) has produced a film to help staff in raising concerns over patient safety.

The film, produced under the auspices of the Commission on Education and Training for Patient Safety chaired by Professor Sir Norman Williams and Sir Keith Pearson, will provide support for staff at all levels, addressing not only the importance of raising concerns but how to do it whilst providing further information on speaking out when patient safety is at risk.

The film, formally launched today at the Royal College of Nursing, will also be used in response to Robert Francis’s review into whistleblowing in the NHS which recommended that every NHS staff member receives robust training in how to raise concerns about the way patients are being treated.

Professor Ian Cumming, HEE chief executive, said: “High-quality education and training is the basis of high quality, safe and effective patient care. Patient safety should be the number one concern of all who serve patients in the NHS; the first and most important lesson they learn.

“We would hope that employers, universities, trainers and others use this film to raise awareness in staff, stimulate discussion about best practice and to ensure that all students, trainees and staff are aware of the importance of their responsibility to raise concerns when they see patients at risk. Patient safety is everybody’s business.”

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