A drive to recruit hundreds of overseas doctors to work in the NHS was launched last week.
But NHS experts have warned that the Government needs to provide better training and support for overseas doctors if they are to provide an effective solution to skills shortages.
Dr Surendar Kumar, chairman of the Overseas Doctors Association, said, "There needs to be a proper training and induction structure in place for recruits from different cultures.
"To expect a doctor coming from a different culture to be proficient in how the NHS works is ridiculous. We need to introduce four- to six-week clinical placements for overseas recruits so they can see how the NHS works."
The recruitment drive involves a worldwide advertising campaign targeting senior doctors in Europe, Australia, Canada, Asia and the US. Spain, Germany and Italy will receive particular attention because they train more medical students than they have jobs for.
John Adsett, secretary for Association of Healthcare Human Resources Management, said, "It is a big culture shock and you have to prepare proper induction packages and be fully aware of the cultural background of the recruits."
Adsett argued that overseas recruitment was only a short-term solution to a staffing crisis.
"You must recruit and retain your own staff. The difficulty the NHS faces is getting the training numbers for doctors right in the UK and attracting enough students to the profession," he said.
Last year, the NHS Plan set a target of employing 7,500 more consultants and 2,000 more GPs by the end of 2004. #
By Karen Higginbottom