The primary care flexible staff pool arrangements reflect the People Plan commitment to establish GP banks, and replaces the Locum Support Scheme commitment made in ‘Update to the GP Contract Agreement 2020/21-2023/24’ for 2020/21. The delivery ask of this year is a continuation of the initiative first launched in December 2020.
As with last year, in 2021/22 each integrated care system (ICS) can receive up to £120,000 via NHS England regions to implement or augment their virtual pool arrangements at pace. These financial allocations are complemented by further optional enablers, which systems may opt to utilise, including a template contract and a digital suppliers framework.
The ambition is for these flexible staff pools to support groups of primary care networks (PCNs), most likely at an integrated care board (ICB) or place footprint, to increase capacity in general practice and create a new offer for local GPs wanting to work flexibly. It is expected that practices and PCNs will benefit from reduced burden in accessing temporary staff, and potential to build better relationships with pool members.
GPs supported through the pool arrangement could have access to the flexibility of a locuming role, with the additional benefits of a salaried position.
The vision for 2021/22 is for the flexible staff pools to be developed into a mechanism that acts as a local point of contact, offering support and advice to the GP workforce more widely through robust engagement, particularly for doctors returning to general practice such as those on a career break or parental/adoption leave.
GPs who are interested in joining their local flexible pool should contact their ICS.