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Practices struggling to recruit can access up to £12K

NHS England offers allowances to help attract returning GPs into posts vacant for a year

Louise Prime

Thursday, 26 May 2016

NHS England is offering allowances and bursaries totalling up to £12,000 to help practices recruit returning GPs into posts that have been vacant for a year or more, it has announced. GP leaders have welcomed the scheme, and called for its urgent and effective implementation.

NHS England said the pilot Targeted investment in recruiting returning doctors scheme is meant to encourage GPs wishing to come back to work in the NHS, and GPs on the retained doctor scheme, to seek employment in areas that have historically struggled to recruit GPs. It said the scheme forms part of its commitment in the General Practice Forward View, to recruit more doctors overall and target those areas with the most severe shortages.

As well as offering designated practices assistance with recruitment and marketing, including the development of job descriptions and recruitment packs, the pilot scheme offers:

  • up to £8,000 in relocation allowances for GPs relocating to designated practices paid via their employing practice;
  • up to £2,000 in an education bursary in the first twelve months for relocating GPs to be used on professional development as agreed in their PDP;
  • up to £2,000 locum cover in the first twelve months for when the new GP is undertaking educational sessions in line with their PDP.

To be considered for the scheme, a GP practice must be able to demonstrate to their NHS England local team (who will invite them to apply) that despite frequent attempts they have been unable to recruit and have held vacant GP post(s) for a minimum of 12 months, and that this is causing a risk to the continuity of patient services. The GP must be prepared to relocate to work in a practice identified by NHS England as one that has historically struggled to recruit GPs; and the practice must be in excess of one hour’s normal travel from their previous home/work base (usually in excess of 50 miles).

The Royal College of GPs has welcomed the announcement of the incentive scheme. RCGP chair Dr Maureen Baker said: “Making it easier for trained GPs to return to frontline patient care after a career break or period working abroad is a priority for the College, and this scheme that targets returning doctors to work in areas most in need makes a lot of sense.

“It’s important that adequate safeguards remain in order to ensure patient safety, and that every GP who wants to return to practise in the UK is treated equally, but we need to cut through any unnecessary red tape, and working with NHS England, I’m pleased that we are making strides in this area.

“NHS England’s GP Forward View offers a lifeline for general practice, and this is just one proposal to build the GP workforce contained within it. It is now vital that this proposal, and others, are implemented effectively and as a matter of urgency in order to keep our profession – and the wider NHS – sustainable.

“We hope this scheme will encourage returning GPs in hard to recruit areas in the best interests of providing safe care now and in the future, wherever our patients live.”

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