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Independents' Day

Lib Dems plan to incentivise working in areas with workforce shortages

The Liberal Democrats have pledged to financially incentivise healthcare professionals to work in areas with shortages via a ’patient premium’ scheme. 

The party’s full manifesto, released today ahead of the 12 December election, said incentive payments would be given to clinicians in inner-city and remote rural areas where there is not enough staff.

Their plans for the NHS also including giving free prescriptions to patients with chronic mental health conditions.

The party has promised an extra £35bn for health and social care in England, Wales and Northern Ireland over the next five years funded by putting a penny on income tax.

The 94-page election proposal promises to take a ’what works’ approach to improving retention by including continuing professional development, better support, and more flexible working conditions for NHS staff.

Professor Azeem Majeed, professor of primary care at Imperial College London criticised the patient premium pledge as a ‘sticking plaster solution’ which was unlikely to work.

He said: 'Incentive schemes to encourage health professionals such as GPs to work in parts of the country that have the greatest problems recruiting have been tried previously but have not generally been very successful.

‘My own view is that initiatives like do not address the underlying causes of difficulties with recruitment and retention of NHS staff. These are more to do with issues like workload, funding and work-related stress, none of which will be improved through incentive schemes. These incentive schemes also do not address the fact there is a shortage of NHS staff across the country and will not increase the overall supply of staff.’

The Liberal Democrats also committed to ending the GP shortfall by maintaining freedom of movement from remaining in the EU and training more GPs. They also announced a £10bn capital fund to upgrade equipment, ambulances, hospitals and other NHS buildings.

Liberal Democrat leader, Jo Swinson, said: ‘This manifesto is a bold plan to build a brighter future for our country, and that starts with stopping Brexit. Labour and the Conservatives can’t offer the country a brighter future because they both want Brexit. We know that will be bad for our NHS.’

Other manifesto policies include:

  • Making sure there are fit for purpose GP premises, equipped with modern technology;
  • Improving appointments outside normal working hours, including using mobile services;
  • Listening and acting on the pensions crisis;
  • Encouraging CCGs and local authorities to work together on pooled budgets and joint arrangements;
  • Reinstating funding for public health budgets;
  • A national workforce strategy.

But RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, said the RCGP were pleased the need for greater investment in general practice was being recognised once again in the election campaign.

She added: ’General practice is the frontline of the NHS for millions of patients, carrying out the vast majority of NHS patient contacts and playing a crucial role alleviating pressures in other parts of the health service.

‘We know that investing in general practice is investing in the entire NHS – which is why our Back GP manifesto calls for 11% of the NHS budget to be spent on general practice.’

Ahead of the general election, Labour pledged to spend £2.5bn on an overhaul of the primary care estate, whereas the Conservative party have promised an extra 6,000 GPs by 2025. 

Readers' comments (9)

  • Fantasists. Work force shortages are everywhere and they have no clue.

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  • Throughout the country, lets incentivise the GP workforce and have a contract where we get paid for what we do.Lets have an uplift at least as much as inflation every year.Whoops to late non of you will be able to save GPs or the NHS now a lot will reduce hours or go in the next five years whatever.The last 10 years have done too much damage and eroded good will to zero(even minus).

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  • What an utter yawn!

    Basically sort out the shite work environment, pensions CQC, GMC and a any other bummy items I have forgotten and possibly (just possibly mind you) and you will begin to sort the problem.

    Clearly this is entirely logical, obvious to most punters but not a potential vote winner/grabber so will never be adopted by any political party.

    So it’s still a Harvey Smith to you and roll on 4/20!

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  • Things you won’t see in a manifesto soon. 1. Public funding of GMC, doctors should not have to pay their own hangman. 2. CQC remit over general practice scrapped. 3. Appraisal and revalidation reduced to the Australian triennium model of submitting electronic evidence of learning once every 3 years with no face to face assessment. 4. GPs to chose their own pension contribution amount rather than fixed %. 5. Remove clause forbidding GP from charging patients for additional services: booking that Saturday morning appt will be £40 please. 6. Limited liability status for Practices; we can’t be private entities only when it suits.......


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  • 'Areas with workforce shortage' That will be the whole UK then.

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  • The TWO biggest changes for primary care needs to be:
    1 Encouraging people to work in General Practice for longer. That means
    1a - Less bureaucracy to work (CQC, revalidation, etc)
    1b - Return to seniority payments, perhaps beefed up.

    2 - Encourage people to work closer to full time. Which means
    2a - Pension problems sorted
    2b - Abolish crazy tax system around/ just over 100k earnings
    2c - Abolish any other penalties for working closer to full time (for example tiered pension contributions).

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  • @ObiOne.
    I walked at 50 and changed career. I would add an important but even more difficult third requirement that something should be started to try to change patient expectation. I had a very elderly list and after 23yrs of f/t clinical sessions I had had enough of the expectation that old age is a treatable illness. I am afraid that people have virtually forgotten ageing and death exists.

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  • it would need to be quite a high sh*th*le bonus to be effective - at least 25K recurring

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  • Took Early Retirement

    OK in theory but irrelevant as the con-dems will NEVER be forming a government.

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