Paediatrics at St George’s Hospital is the first department in Southwest London to lead the medical support worker programme, giving overseas doctors the opportunity to train and work within the NHS. Six doctors are enrolled on the programme, and four have already completed their GMC registration and are now practising doctors within the CQC rated outstanding department.

Dr Kirti Singhal trained as a doctor in India and moved to the UK in December 2020. After completing a clinical observer shift, Dr Singhal enrolled onto the programme, and under supervision, helped with the management of sick children on the paediatric wards during the pandemic.

After passing examinations, Dr Singhal is now a clinical fellow for the paediatric intensive care unit (PICU). She thanks her supervisors and paediatric colleagues for providing her with new learning opportunities to begin a brand-new chapter in the NHS: “The programme is a fantastic foundation to understand how the NHS works. I’ve always been interested in helping the most critically unwell children in paediatric intensive care, and this opportunity strengthened my clinical skills so that I could understand NHS systems and secure a clinical fellow role.”

Dr Singhal received positive feedback after she looked after Siya, 1, who was admitted to PICU earlier this year following a fall and cardiac arrest. Siya’s father, Paras said: “We need more doctors like Dr Kirti that are kind and make a difference to our NHS. Thank you for all the support you gave Siya and my family during our time at St George’s Hospital.”

Taiwo is from Nigeria and practised paediatric medicine in a registered role back home. After moving to London in February, she enrolled on to the MSW programme and has just passed her first PLAB exam which is a fantastic achievement: “I’m so grateful for this opportunity to join the NHS and make a difference. Thank you to all my colleagues and clinical supervisors for believing in me and continuing to support me.”

Richard Jennings, Medical Director for St George’s, Epsom and St Helier Hospital Group says: “I’m pleased that our talented overseas colleagues are making a difference for our sickest and youngest patients. The programme is a fantastic initiative to help boost NHS recruitment and retention initiatives, by giving overseas doctors valuable experience to train and work with us.”

The MSW programme introduced by Consultant Dr Sijo Francis helps overseas doctors secure training opportunities that can lead to applying for General Medical Council (GMC) registration in the CQC ‘outstanding’ rated paediatric department. The programme is available for medically qualified doctors who are residents in the UK, but don’t have current registration with the GMC.

Sijo Francis, Clinical Director for Paediatrics and Consultant Neonatologist says: “I’m proud that we have implemented the MSW programme at St George’s, as it’s given overseas clinicians new opportunities to become part of our NHS family.

Overseas colleagues bring a wealth of learning and life experience to our department, and I’m delighted to support them in becoming highly skilled doctors that contribute so much to our NHS workforce.”

Notes to editors

St George’s children’s services are rated ‘outstanding’ by the CQC. Every year St George’s treats over 130,000 children and deliver 5000 babies.

Paediatrics at St Georges Hospital is the first department in Southwest London to adopt the Medical Support Worker (MSW) role, which is suitable for international medical graduates that wish to practise medicine in the UK.

St George’s is the only hospital site in London where children with cancer can receive oncology surgery, PICU and neurosurgery as well as oncology care all on the same site with the other specialties that are required as well.

St George’s is one of 11 adult and children major trauma centres in the UK, one of eight hyper acute stroke units and one of the biggest and busiest of the eight heart attack centres in London. It is also an accredited centre of excellence for trauma, neurology, cardiology, cancer and blood pressure services and is the national centre for family HIV care and bone marrow transplantation for non-cancer diseases.