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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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