Intended for healthcare professionals


Indian doctors are recruited to fill emergency medicine gaps

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: (Published 28 April 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g3000
  1. Abi Rimmer
  1. 1BMJ Careers

Health Education England (HEE) and the College of Emergency Medicine are recruiting around 50 doctors from India to work in accident and emergency departments in England.

The Telegraph reported that HEE was currently considering applications and that the shortlisted candidates would undergo interviews by Skype video link this week.1

HEE told BMJ Careers that the programme was a result of poor recruitment into emergency medicine. In 2013 and 2014 less than half of the places in higher training for this specialty were filled. And last year a review published by the College of Emergency Medicine found that emergency departments in England were spending an average of £600 000 a year on locums, equating to around £120m a year in total.2

HEE hopes to recruit at least 50 doctors to the four year programme, into core training years 2 and 3 and specialty training year 4. It said that College of Emergency Medicine exams were “formally adopted” in India and that emergency medicine competences in India therefore aligned with those in the United Kingdom.

Applicants who are successful at the Skype stage will be invited to a face to face interview in India in May. The successful applicants will then take up their posts in England in August of this year.3

Successful candidates will need to take the academic International English Language Test System. However, they will not have to sit exams set by the Professional and Linguistics Assessments Board (PLAB), which are usually required for doctors from overseas who wish to work in the UK.

HEE said that the recruits would not have to sit the PLAB exams because they would have sponsorship from the College of Emergency Medicine, which has been approved by the General Medical Council to undertake this function. Two studies recently published in The BMJ found that the pass mark for the PLAB exams should be raised to ensure that overseas doctors met equivalent standards to UK trained doctors.4

Once on the programme candidates will be offered rotational posts in hospitals in one region of England. They will have the opportunity to attend a College of Emergency Medicine programme to prepare for either the Membership of the College of Emergency Medicine (MCEM) exam or the Fellowship of the College of Emergency Medicine (FCEM) exam, and they will have access to the college’s e-portfolio and e-learning resources.

Cliff Mann, president of the College of Emergency Medicine, said, “The college recognises the difficulties posed by workforce development in emergency medicine, particularly the shortage of consultants resulting from unfilled training posts.

“The college, alongside HEE, is taking the necessary steps to promote sustainable solutions for the medical workforce and to support safe, effective, and efficient care for patients in our emergency departments.”

A spokeswoman for HEE said, “We are particularly keen to recruit in India because the College of Emergency Medicine already has a training base there. We know we can recruit appropriate doctors, and the specific advantage is that their training competences map very closely to the requirements in the UK. While Europe is also an option, the service delivery is different and doctors would find it harder to adapt, and it would take much longer for them to be able to provide emergency care services here.

“The doctors we recruit will be able to work here for up to four years, providing an important service for patients while they are here and gaining invaluable skills and experience that they will take home with them. It’s good for them, good for patients, and good for the service.”


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