What can be done to solve the GP recruitment crisis?
Three GPs consider what needs to be done to solve the GP workforce crisis
‘Make general practice more attractive’
The constant criticism of GPs in the media does us no favours. The public and the NHS need, and deserve, more GPs and the perpetual GP bashing needs to stop immediately if we are to avoid a severe shortage in the very near future.
There is also a misconception about what general practice is about and what GPs actually do. It needs to be promoted as a positive career choice rather than a ‘back-up’ if nothing else works out.
Even with greater efforts around recruitment, this will only offer a long-term solution – especially with plans to extend GP training to four years.
Dr Krishna Kasaraneni, chair of the GPC trainees subcommittee
‘Remove barriers for returners’
We put up huge barriers to people who we have trained at great taxpayer expense and we positively prohibit these doctors from picking up their careers again in UK general practice.
I query the appropriateness of these routes onto the performers’ list. What we’re proposing is to work with others, to agree a set of principles around safe, proportionate return to general practice.
Someone who has been working in general practice in, say, Australia for three years has needs in terms of supported return that are likely to be very different from someone who has been out of practice completely for eight or nine years.
We could potentially have a short-term surge in the general practice workforce just by getting the best out of the potential for returners.
Dr Maureen Baker, chair of the RCGP
‘Fix the leaky bucket’
The evidence shows we’re training more GPs but many are choosing to work part-time because of the issues of burnout, many are going abroad and practices are finding it very difficult to forward-plan because funding is so uncertain. It’s a perfect storm for a recruitment and retention crisis.
We need to focus on the ‘leaky bucket’ – there is no point pouring more in at the top when so much is seeping out of the bottom. Many GPs are considering retiring early or working part-time in order to cope with stress.
We need a national workforce solution. At the moment the policy is to devolve workforce planning right down to the [local education training boards] and local priorities – but since that national resource structure has been subsumed within local budgets, funding is only happening in a piecemeal fashion.
Dr Beth McCarron-Nash, GPC negotiator and a GP in Cornwall
Read the full investigation: Are we at risk of running out of GPs?