Personal Views

The NHS benefits from doctors working abroad

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: (Published 08 July 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:133
  1. Chris Abell,
  2. Sandra Taylor

    “Go for yourself by all means, but surely you are not going to pretend that it will be of any use to the NHS?” The reaction from a consultant friend stopped us in our tracks. By applying for prolonged study leave, arguing that six months' voluntary work in India would have beneficial effects on the practice in which we are jobsharing general practitioners, we were definitely striving to impress, but we were convinced that our proposed trip was more than an extended escape from the stresses of general practice. Our friend's scepticism immediately corroded our confidence; what could we possibly gain that would help us to contribute more positively and effectively to the NHS? India has a different culture with different problems and different solutions, inapplicable to general practice in an English market town. Be honest, ran his argument: we needed a break, and our proposals, dressed up in fancy phrases, were a cynical scheme to get the Department of Health to fund it. This opinion was shared by a significant minority of colleagues but not by the department, which approved our application and paid, to the tune of £12000, for either six months' holiday or a unique and extended learning opportunity.

    After 10 years in an ordinary, medium sized practice in an ordinary, medium sized town with ordinary, medium sized patients, we needed the holiday. As energetic new partners we had seen ourselves as astute, up …

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