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moneyJanuary 28 2015

NHS England is making £10 million available to boost recruitment and retention of GPs, and expand the general practice workforce.

Working with the Royal College of General Practitioners, the British Medical Association and Health Education England, the funding will support a range of initiatives. It will also help develop the role of other primary care staff such as nurses and pharmacists.

To bring in newly trained doctors in areas that are struggling to recruit, there will be incentives such as:

•    offering an additional year’s training in a related clinical specialty
•    a national marketing campaign aimed at graduate doctors to highlight the opportunities and benefits of being a GP
•    pilot training hubs based in GP practices.

To retain GPs, a new scheme will “encourage GPs who may be considering a career break or retirement, to remain working on a part-time basis. It will enable practices to offer GPs the opportunity to work with a modified workload and will be piloted in areas which have found it more difficult to recruit. There will also be a wider review of existing ‘retainee’ schemes.”

HEE will publish a new induction and returner scheme to encourage experienced doctors to return to general practice, whether from a career break or if returning from overseas. “There will also be targeted investment to encourage GPs to return to work in areas of greatest need which will help with the costs of returning and the cost of employing these staff.”

Professor Wendy Reid, the HEE’s Medical Director and Director of Education and Quality, said: “This programme will spearhead a completely new cultural change within primary care, supporting a wider multidisciplinary team to work together by emulating successes in emergency medicine for the benefits of patients across the NHS.

”One innovative solution currently in planning is the development of regional training hubs, bringing together the wider expertise of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other specialisms tailored to the regional needs of patients locally. All of this underpinned by a more equitable and easier career route within a highly rewarding part of the NHS.”

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, Chair of the BMA’s General Practitioner Committee, said: “It is vital that these measures, including commitments to increase recruitment and improve retention are implemented rapidly, not least as these were key parts of the 2015-16 contract negotiations agreed between NHS England and the BMA GPs committee.”

Dr Maureen Baker, Chair of the RCGP, describes the action plan as “good news for general practice and for patients. By tackling the three Rs – recruitment, retention and ‘returners’ – this action plan gives us a real chance to build up the size of our GP workforce that our nation needs.

“By rolling out the action plan, we are laying the foundations for a fully reinvigorated and restored general practice, which can deliver excellent patient care in the community and take substantial pressure off our hospitals.

“We hope that this will be the start of more sustained investment for general practice that will help us reduce waiting times for GP appointments, provide more flexible opening hours and provide more services for patients closer to home.”

NHS England says the funding will kick start the 10 point plan which has been developed in addition to existing work to increase the general practice workforce. This includes work by Health Education England alongside NHS England and the RCGP to get an additional 4,900 trained GPs by 2020 (compared with 2012).

Links:

NHS England announcement    

RCGP announcement    

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