Our Workforce programme aims to deliver the vision and ambitious targets set out in the General Practice Forward View (GP Forward View) to expand, develop and transform the primary care workforce by 2020.

Our programme incorporates and builds on the successes of the 10 Point Plan which was launched in January 2015 as part of the Five Year Forward View.

We need a strong workforce to achieve the vision in the GP Forward View and we are working in partnership with Health Education England (HEE), the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and the British Medical Association (BMA) to deliver an extra 10,000 staff and to strengthen the primary care workforce by 2020/21.

The following describes the programmes we have, or are putting in place, to support the vision of the GP Forward View to deliver 10,000 additional staff and ensure a sustained workforce for the future.

Recruiting doctors into general practice

As part of our commitment in the GP Forward View we will be doubling the rate of growth of the medical workforce to create 5,000 additional doctors working in general practice by 2020/21. Working closely with HEE we will be:

  • Increasing GP training places to 3,250 a year to support overall net growth of 5,000 extra doctors by 2020 (compared with 2014).
  • Attracting up to an extra 500 appropriately trained and qualified doctors from overseas.
  • Rolling out 250 new post-certificate of completion of training (CCT) fellowships to provide further training opportunities in areas of poorest GP recruitment
  • Attracting and retaining at least an extra 500 GPs back into English general practice

In September 2015, HEE 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, HEE, 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 £20,000 salary supplements 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.

Retaining the current medical workforce

In the GP Forward View  we made a commitment to review and revise the current retainer scheme for GPs and identify the most effective incentives to remain in practice.

Retained Doctor Scheme 2016

NHS England has published new guidance on the existing Retained Doctor Scheme, which increases both the money for practices employing a retained GP and the annual payment towards professional expenses for GPs on the scheme and is an interim measure while a broader review of the best approaches to retaining doctors is undertaken by NHS England, HEE, BMA and RCGP.

The Retained Doctor Scheme is a package of support which includes financial incentives and development support to help GPs who might otherwise leave the profession to remain in clinical general practice.

The additional resource is part of an on-going commitment to retain more doctors in general practice as set out in the GP Forward View. The new guidance applies to those doctors already on the scheme and new retained doctors in post before 31 March 2017.

Building the wider workforce

As part of our commitment in the GP Forward View we will be recruiting a minimum of 5,000 other staff working in general practice by 2020/21 including an extra 3,000 mental health therapists, a further 1,500 clinical pharmacists, 1,000 new physician associates and piloting new medical assistant roles.

In July 2015 we launched the clinical pharmacists in general practice pilot, which tests how this new role and way of working in primary care can support GPs and patients. In November 2016 funding was doubled to £31 million and 403 clinical pharmacists posts in GP surgeries were announced across 73 sites covering over 7 million patients. By 2020 we are aiming to recruit a further 1,500 clinical pharmacists.

We are also developing a general practice nurse development strategy and will be investing £15 million to increase pre-registration nurse placements, improve retention of the existing workforce and support return to work schemes for practice nurses.

Returning to 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 GP 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.

Informing the GP Forward View

The general practice workforce ’10 Point Plan’ committed to ‘conduct a detailed review to identify the most effective measures to encourage experienced GPs to remain within practice’.

We asked Ipsos MORI to conduct some research which included focus groups with GPs and medical students to gain a better understanding of the challenges facing GPs. We also commissioned PRUcomm to collate existing evidence and research on retention and recruitment to support and inform future GP workforce plans.

The insight gained from these pieces of research helped inform the development of the GP Forward View which includes a range of initiatives to grow and support the general practice workforce, including:

  • Increasing the number of GPs in general practice by a minimum of 5,000
  • Growing the multidisciplinary workforce by a minimum of 5,000 – including nurses, pharmacists, mental health workers, physician associates and others
  • Working with HEE, RCGP and other organisations to kick start the GP Forward View to raise the profile of the general practice profession through campaigns such as #nothinggeneral and Think GP
  • Increasing GP training capacity and establishing new post CCT fellowships to provide further training opportunities in areas of poorest GP recruitment
  • Releasing the first £16 million of the new £40 million Practice Resilience Programme, to help struggling practices across the country
  • Giving every practice in the country the opportunity to receive training and development support through the first phase of the 3 year £30 million general practice development programme
  • Fully offsetting the rising cost of GP indemnity.