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NHS offers £12,000 for GP returners to work in struggling practices

NHS England is offering up to £12,000 in funding to incentivise GPs to work in practices that have been unable to fill vacancies for more than 12 months.

The scheme will be piloted this year and offers £8,000 to cover the GP’s relocation expenses as well as a £2,000 education bursary and up to £2,000 for the practice to buy locum cover while the new recruit attends education sessions.

The GP is required to stay with the practice for at least three years, and the scheme is only open to GPs who are willing to work at least four sessions a week and who have recently returned to UK general practice or are on a short-term break.

In order to qualify for the funding, practices must demonstrate they have been unable to fill vacancies for in excess of 12 months and that there is a risk to patient care. 

The pilot summary on the NHS England website states: ‘The GP must be prepared to relocate to work in a practice identified by NHS England as one which has historically struggled to recruit GPs. 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 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 12 months for relocating GPs to be used on professional development;
  • Marketing assistance to support designated practices with recruitment, including the development of job descriptions and recruitment packs;
  • Up to £2,000 locum cover in the first 12 months for when the new GP is undertaking educational sessions. 

Relocation costs covered will include legal fees involved in buying and selling a house, moving expenses and rental costs, and it even covers costs for a child to attend boarding school.

For practices to qualify they must be able to show NHS England 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 service’.

A risk matrix will be used by NHS England to determine which practices are sufficiently vulnerable to be involved in the pilot.

The scheme was one of the commitments in NHS England’s joint ten-point plan for GP workforce, and eligible GPs will be drawn from the plan’s other initiatives.

This includes the recently souped-up GP retainer scheme, which Pulse revealed would be offering up to £16,000 for practices and GPs intending to take a break but willing continue some clinical sessions.

It will also include the new national Induction and Refresher Scheme for GPs coming back after working overseas or a career break, and which Pulse has shown has returned as few as one in 100 GPs registered in its first six months.

Streamlining the process for GPs to return from abroad is key to Jeremy Hunt’s distant ambition to attract 5,000 more GPs but has been criticised for requiring returners to work under supervision for prolonged periods, and for not recruiting to the most under-doctored areas.

Dr Maureen Baker, chair of the RCGP – who developed the ten-point plan alongside the BMA and workforce bosses – 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.’

Readers' comments (26)

  • What a crock

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  • how about;

    1. indemnity for all
    2. get rid of re-validation
    3. get rid of CQC
    4. get rid of QOF
    5. reduce NHS pension contribution
    7. free training / cover
    8. reduce NHSE paperwork

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  • So, let me see if I have got this right......
    I have to move house, but will have these expenses paid ( but not the stamp duty) so I will be out of pocket.
    I would be paid £2000 for training courses ( how generous) and the PRACTICE would be paid for cover while I attend them.
    And I get........ What exactly? A stamp duty bill and to live in an unpopular area in an unpopular practice.
    Not a penny extra for me.

    Errrrr, no thanks!

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  • Why on earth would anyone want to return to general practice???

    IMO rather than jumping through all the bureaucratic hoops they really need to be assessed by a psychiatrist and locked up for their own safety!!!

    gtfo asap

    DITCH THE COUNTRY COMRADES!!!

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  • 8 k to move your family and return to a life destroying job- just shows they have no idea!! Nothing would every make me go back

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  • Sticking plasters, very, very small ones.

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  • What a mess!
    I was a principal GP for over 15 years and changed career to forencic medicine for few years . When I tried to go back to GP ,so many obstacles were put in my way including the no funding available tp attend retraining in General practice and the doctor I met in the deanary who was put in a position of ecouraging doctors like me to go back ,was most unhelpful.
    It is shameful to keep on changing the posts and putting obstacles in front of returning GP and appointing doctors to obstruct their colleagues to go back.
    There is absolutely no need for all this complcated system to creat recruitment crisis and shortage.
    All it needs that the doctor on the GP LIST with the GMC and the gp practices can appoint them directly under supervision for six months or so.

    I will never contemplate going back again .
    Ex principal GP
    MB CHB,FRCP

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  • ...per month?!?

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  • Interim managers can get more than £1000 per day plus expenses and no-one bats an eye. The question needs answering why are they unfilled? Once that is resolved then determine how to incentivise anyone to take on the job. Throwing money used to work but not anymore, lifestyle and mental health is more important.

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  • so that's anpther tranche of the £ 2.4BN that won't be spent

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