NHS England announces new £10 million fund to help retain GPs

NHS England is today announcing a new £10 million fund to support and retain GPs.

Some £7 million will be made available through regional-based schemes to help GPs to stay in the workforce, by promoting new ways of working and by offering additional support through a new Local GP Retention Fund.

A further £3 million will also be made available to establish seven intensive support sites across the country in areas that have struggled most to retain GPs. Details on these sites and plans for retention efforts there will be announced next month.

The fund will support local health services focussing on supporting newly qualified GPs or those within their first five years of practice, who are seriously considering leaving general practice or who are no longer clinically practising in the NHS in England but remain on the National Performers List (Medical).

It is the latest in a series of initiatives aimed at improving patient care by improving GPs quality of work life including:

  • The GP Retention Scheme, launched in 2017 to support GPs who, for personal reasons, cannot work more than four sessions per week and when a regular part-time role does not meet the doctor’s need for flexibility. The GP receives financial support and the practice where they are based receives funding to support their continued professional development, supervision and mentoring.
  • The GP Health Service, also launched in 2017, is a free and confidential mental health service for General Practitioners and Trainee GPs, who may be experiencing mental health and addiction issues.

These initiatives are in addition to significant investment by NHS England to attract new GPs to practices, including providing more training places and an international programme to recruit 2,000 GPs by 2020.

Dr Raj Patel, deputy director of primary care for NHS England, said: “We are aware of the pressures currently facing GPs and, in particular, the need to support the valued doctors we have to continue working when they are faced with personal challenges which might make this difficult.

The Local GP Retention Fund will help to address this as part of several measures we have put in place to provide that much-needed support for GPs who are already working hard to provide great care for patients in their community.”

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “General practice is in a tough place right now, and it’s essential we look after the hard working GPs in our profession, including those just starting out in their careers. Today’s measures are really welcome, and we appreciate the focus on supporting local initiatives and areas that are finding it particularly difficult to retain GPs in the profession.

“We hope these plans are just the start of more initiatives that tackle escalating GP workload, and that they are implemented with as little red tape as possible. We also want to see more options and greater flexibility for experienced GPs, particularly those who might be considering leaving the profession, so that our patients can continue to benefit from their expert skills – and newer GPs can continue to learn from them.”