The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) today (Tuesday 13 February) announced that it is pleased to have contributed its perspective to Lord Crisp’s important report, which helps set out the potential strategy for the exchange of healthcare expertise and experiences between the UK and Africa and South Asia, particularly with former Commonwealth Countries.
Lord Crisp’s report identifies some of the important issues and the wide variety of successful – and less successful – governmental and nongovernmental strategies.
The ethos of the international work of the RCGP over nearly 20 years has been to support the development of locally relevant programmes of general practice. The report acknowledges this in the accreditation of the South Asia MRCGP[INT] examination, which provides a standard for family medicine for a quarter of the world’s people and is now intended to be translated to the context of Africa.
The important issues for the scaling up of the primary healthcare workforce in these continents through academic support, exchanges and accreditation over the long term are crucial to the success and self sustainability of any UK support. The practical arrangements for the identification and co-ordination of appropriate GPs in response to humanitarian crises can now be addressed learning from other international models.
While the report is to be very much welcomed, it does not address some very practical barriers of implementation. This will require the implementation of some of the strategies recommended, to which the RCGP and the other medical and nursing royal colleges can contribute, but also the purposeful support and collaboration of government and the regulatory bodies of the medical profession.
Such barriers include:
- Breaks in the NHS Pension Scheme for NHS personnel.
- Incentives and resources to backfill leave from primary care and general practices.
- Integrating accredited overseas training experience in the Modernising Medical Careers pathways.
- Overcoming the restrictions to the managed training and education experiences for overseas doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers to the UK.
- Ensuring congruence with the revalidation of doctors.
- Harnessing the untapped potential of recently retired clinicians, members of medical and nursing royal colleges working in other overseas countries, and providing focus for the “elective periods” of final-year UK medical students.
- Supporting collaborative organisations such as the medical and nursing royal colleges, who can actually deliver this agenda in the short, medium and long term.
Lord Crisp proposes a Global Health Partnership Centre to act as a “one-stop shop” source of information for individuals and health organisations. This has already been anticipated by the development of the Royal Colleges International Forum, whose members and affiliates include many of the key organisations required for implementation of this report and who will also provide support through the Academy of the Medical Royal Colleges.