Feature NHS Workforce

Speed dating for doctors: getting skilled refugees into NHS practice

BMJ 2017; 359 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.j4868 (Published 23 October 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;359:j4868
  1. Sophie Arie, freelance journalist, London, UK
  1. sophiearie{at}fmail.co.uk

Sophie Arie reports on schemes helping foreign doctors to register and work in the UK, providing the NHS with much needed highly qualified staff

In a large room in Stockton-on-Tees in north east England, NHS doctors sit behind individual tables chatting to one of 12 refugees. Every five minutes the refugees move round until everyone has met.

These are not mini health consultations or interviews about asylum claims. The refugees are all qualified health professionals in need of a mentor to help them start practising in the medical maze that is the NHS.

“This is how we find our mentors,” says Jane Metcalf, deputy medical director at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust. “We speed date them.”

Each refugee and doctor has a sheet of paper on which they write down who they’d like to be matched with. Once paired up, the refugees have a sympathetic insider to turn to as they take the language test (International English Language Testing System) and find a clinical placement to help them pass the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) test of medical …

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