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a pound imageOctober 17 2017

A scheme to encourage GP trainees to take up posts in in parts of the country struggling to recruit has been promoted by the Health Secretary. 

 Worth £20,000 to individuals, the Targeted Enhanced Recruitment Scheme is a one-off payment to attract GP trainees to areas where training places have been unfilled for a number of years.

Jeremy Hunt made the announcement at the RCGP conference in Liverpool. Other measures in his speech included:

  • new flexible working arrangements, including the opportunity to take on mentoring and leadership roles, for GPs considering retirement;
  • a new international recruitment office set up by NHS England to help local areas to recruit GPs from overseas, with plans to expand fast-track routes into general practice for doctors trained outside the European Economic Area in countries such as Australia;
  • a consultation on the regulation of physician associates to provide further clarity on the scope of the role, and exploring how support staff can bolster healthcare teams across the country.

“By introducing targeted support for vulnerable areas and tackling head on critical issues such as higher indemnity fees and the recruitment and retention of more doctors, we can strengthen and secure general practice for the future,” said Mr Hunt.

RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard responded: “We have an incredibly serious shortage of GPs right across the country, but there are some areas that struggle to recruit more than others and often they are in remote and rural areas, so this commitment to incentivise working in these areas is welcome.

“When the TERS was launched initially, it had very positive results, so we hope this success will be replicated with this extension. GPs and practice teams in remote and rural areas face unique challenges – but when the services is adequately resources to meet patients; specific needs, they can also be fantastic and rewarding places to work.”

The BMA warned that the £20,000 enticement for rural GPs would not solve the GP workforce crises. Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chair, said: “These proposals do appear to acknowledge the specific problems facing rural areas in England. But ‘golden hellos’ are not a new idea and unlikely to solve the overall workforce crisis given we are failing badly to train enough GPs to meet current demands.

“There is already an incentive programme for ‘hard to recruit areas’ that has been operating since 2016 and it is not clear whether this new announcement, which comes without any real details, is any different from that scheme. There are also many other areas of the country, including urban areas, that are also suffering from GP shortages. A recent BMA survey found that one in three practices nationwide had vacancies that they were unable to fill after 12 months.”

Links:
Department of Health announcement     
RCGP response  
BMA response

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