The Lincolnshire Refugee Doctor Project was established in 2016 with the aim of helping refugees who hold a medical qualification to become registered to practise medicine in the UK: this process, which for doctors fleeing conflict in their home countries is remarkably difficult, and may take several years to achieve. Success is much greater with the organised support of Refugee Doctor Programmes, like Building Bridges in London, and REACHE in Salford, but involves costs and a need for support and mentoring from colleagues. Even then, it is difficult for refugee doctors to find training places on UK specialist training programmes in competition with UK trained doctors.
Rural areas, like ours in Greater Lincolnshire, have a workforce crisis in the NHS: the number of doctor vacancies is steadily high, and services cannot be provided to rural communities for want of doctors to provide them. The other Refugee Doctor training programmes have progressed on a goodwill basis, but commissioners need to see evidence of benefit and value for their investment: we look for colleagues within the network to help us develop a research portfolio which provides evidence to underpin what we do.
This programme, with limited funding from local charity bodies and Health Education England in Yorkshire and the Humber, aims to bring ten refugee doctors each year, with their families, into Northeast Lincolnshire, and to help them find a place working in the NHS locally. Colleagues in both General Practice and Hospital Medicine will welcome these doctors with open arms, and help to train them to be able to make that future for themselves.
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