We need a strong GP workforce to achieve the vision for primary care set out in the NHS Five Year Forward View, which set out a specific commitment to tackle workforce issues.
NHS England, Health Education England, the BMA and RCGP are working together on the GP Workforce 10 Point Plan, a range of initiatives designed to expand and strengthen the GP workforce. There are three strands to this work:
- increasing recruitment into general practice
- retaining more doctors within general practice, and
- supporting more doctors to return to general practice.
As announced in January 2015, NHS England is investing £10million of funding to kick start the initiatives in the plan, which will complement work that is already underway to strengthen the GP workforce. The £10 million is part of the recently announced £1 billion additional investment for primary care infrastructure
The plan is one of a number of initiatives that will contribute to the commitment to increase the number of doctors in primary care by 5,000 and other primary care staff by 5,000 by 2020 and make greater use of the skilled workforce to provide seven-day access to effective care.
In September 2015, Health Education England launched a marketing campaign designed to recruit more newly trained doctors into general practice. Find out more about the ‘Nothing General About General Practice’ recruitment campaign (#nothinggeneral) on the GPNRO website.
NHS England, Health Education England, BMA and RCGP have also been working together to support recruitment in areas to which it has traditionally been hard to recruit. NHS England is offering £20K bursaries to attract GP trainees to work in areas of the country where GP training places have been unfilled for a number of years. Find out more about the Targeted Enhanced Recruitment Scheme.
NHS England has invested in the development of 13 pilot training hubs, where groups of GP practices can offer inter-professional training to primary care staff, extending the skills base within general practice and developing a workforce which can meet the challenge of new ways of working.
The GP Workforce 10 Point Plan partners are working together to explore new ways of retaining GPs in England.
This has included the launch in July 2015 of the clinical pharmacists in general practice pilot, which will test how this new role and way of working in primary care can support GPs and patients. In November funding was doubled to £31m and 403 clinical pharmacists posts in GP surgeries were announced across 73 sites covering over 7 million patients.
Further proposals under development include reviewing and revising the current retainer scheme and identifying the most effective incentives to remain in practice.
In March 2015 the partners launched a revised national induction and refreshers scheme, designed to provide a safe, supported and direct route for qualified GPs to join or return to the NHS. The new scheme means that doctors have a clearer and easier route to return to general practice, and financial support to do so. By 30 November 2015, 139 doctors had registered for the new scheme.
In March 2016, a new Portfolio Route for doctors on the Induction and Refresher Scheme was launched. The Portfolio route involves doctors preparing a portfolio of documents to show that they have maintained their GP skills while working as a general practitioner overseas and how they have kept up to date with changes in NHS practice.
NHS England has launched a new scheme to test how it supports GP practices who are struggling to recruit GPs. The Targeted Investment in Recruiting Returning Doctors Scheme invests resources in GP practices which have been identified as having historically encountered difficulty in recruiting GPs. The scheme offers support to help practices fill their vacancies as well as a relocation allowance for GPs filling those posts.
- GP workforce action plan: Building the workforce – the new deal for General Practice
- See the press release: £10 million investment boost to expand general practice workforce
- Practice Level GP Workforce numbers: MyNHS