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Independents' Day

GP returners to be given financial incentives as part of major changes to recruitment policy

NHS England has committed itself to tempting ‘at least 500 extra GPs’ to return to UK general practice after a long-term career break or practising overseas by 2021, as part of a raft of recruitment initiatives.

The GP Forward View pledges to ‘halve the average time’ it takes for GPs to return to practise, and make further improvements to its new national Induction and Refresher scheme.

The report states: ’We need to accelerate [uptake of the scheme] further so that we can attract at least an extra 500 doctors over the next five years back into general practice.’

This comes after a Pulse investigation into Jeremy Hunt’s pledge to recruit 5,000 more GPs spoke to GPs who had lost thousands in earnings by coming through the scheme.

The investigation revealed that one GP who had been working full time in Australia had decided not to return to general practice because of the inadequate funding and inappropriate scope of the entry exam.

Amongst the improvements to the scheme proposed are:

  • Increase the financial compensation available through the current GP retainer scheme from 1 May 2016;
  • introduce a new GP retainer scheme more fit for purpose from 1 April 2017, and;
  • offer targeted financial incentives to GPs from May 2016 for returning to work in areas of greatest need;
  • a new ‘Portfolio Route’ for GPs with previous UK experience, continuing to work in equivalent primary care roles outside the UK, removing the need for them to sit the current exams to return to practice.

 As well as improvements to the returner scheme, it develops several of the pledges in the ten-point plan for GP workforce, including:

  • An immediate uplift to funding available through the GP retainer scheme, by May 2016, with the ‘introduction of a new GP retainer scheme more fit for purpose from 1 April 2017’;
  • 250 post Certificate of Completion of Training fellowships by Summer 2017, to offer more varied training opportunities in under doctored areas;
  • A review of the general practice culture in medical schools, previously revealed by Pulse.

It adds that to address the retention of experience GPs, evidence suggest ‘the single biggest enabler would be to address concerns over workload, and create a greater sense of ‘status’ for general practice within society’ which the GP Forward View aims to address.

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Readers' comments (9)

  • Why would you come back.What has the UK to offer medics.Zero ,zilch from this package.

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  • Call me crazy, but I did want to return to General Practice, after a career break of 17 years to be just a mum! But the GMC insisted sinceI couldn't provide the evidence to be revalidated on the date they demanded, I had to voluntarily relinquish my licence to practice, or have it removed from me. I wasn't allowed to keep it in order to do a GP returner year and then be revalidated afterwards when I might have some evidence to make revalidation possible and relevant. So, one less GP back in the ranks!

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  • Stop abusing the gps already here first before even trying to get others back. It is really a joke as revalidation just wants to force doctors out.
    I wanted to recalidate but like the above Mum, I did not have the evidence to be revalidated, so I was effectively forced to 'voluntarily' relinquish my licence. Such a waste.

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  • I am a returner. I completed the scheme 3 months ago and am now a salaried 8 session a week GP. Not been reimbursed the money for the MCQ & CSA as promised.
    Financially completing the back to work exams were hard. Tried the benevolent fund for financial backing but didn't fall in to their criteria. The SJT's were wholly aimed at foundation year doctors and not GP's. The CSA was tough as,like riding a bike, we were rusty, but didn't ha ve opportunity to practice as we couldn't get to see patients before the exam.
    Could have been a much smoother process. Never got asked for feedback on my opinion of the process.
    Needed GMC cover but couldn't change this at the end of the 6 month I&R scene. My current practice is all inclusive with cover from another provider, but I'm still paying about £300 a month to the MDU for non-cover.

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  • 10.37pm, Who promised to pay you back the money for the mcq and csa but failed to, as this is against the law as they seem to have made a contract with you which was then broken?

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  • Left UK 9 years ago...happy in NZ. Contemplated returning after 3 years...but some daft bureaucrat decided I was unfit to slot back into the NHS. And now they want to recruit 500 "ex NHS GPs" with the promise of no exams and a "portfolio" re why the hell would I want to return NOW....a total disaster. I'm suprised there are any GPs left. It used to be a great career 15 years ago....
    Thankfully NZ has not made the same mistakes and patients value the care they well as PAYING for it.
    My advice....renew your passport....and book your flight.

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  • 22.April 2016.

    My experiences exactly. 15 years as a GP, trainer, Adjunct prof for UWA undergrad and graduate entry medical students, GP trainer for registrars, Owner of own chain of practices across Australia, full-time GP with special interests. I had to take an exam in UK and simulated patient consultation (including one for 'frozen shoulder' - I called it supraspinatus tendinitis/bursitis and told I was wrong), followed by three weeks unpaid supervised work in a practice. I gave up all pretence of fitting into the NHS and now work only in Australia six months of the year. I am a happy man.

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  • Incentives should be paid to those people working in the NHS under very difficult circumstances and not to returners. What we really need is payment for each item of service to end this nightmare of trying to accomplish each and every request sent to us from all directions for a sum of money which is less than pet insurance or cost of annual television licence fee per year.

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  • Why can't "returners", who would be experienced GPs, simply be offered a 12-18 month placing as a GP trainee (as we used to call them) and then awarded a new licence subject to a satisfactory "end of term" report from their trainer. Too simple I suppose.
    Is there any evidence that newly appointed GPs are any better or safer than those who went thorough the excellent and sensible training schemes we had in the 1970's? Probably not but I am sure NHSE wouldn't let evidence get in the way of a "New Way of Working"
    I finally retired in 2006 and wouldn't come back now for double the money unless I was left alone to do the job I understood in a way that NHSE or DoH never will.

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