Only a handful of GPs and non-GP practice staff have been recruited in the first year of a £500m rescue package designed to ‘turn around’ general practice, Pulse has learnt.
NHS England figures have revealed that only 76 GPs who have left UK general practice have been persuaded to return through an enhanced incentive scheme, while the NHS has recruited 25 GPs from overseas since the GP Forward View was announced last year.
Alongside this, 28 GPs – who say they would otherwise have left – have been convinced to remain in general practice as part of a ‘retainers scheme’.
At the same time, 491 pharmacists have been placed in GP practices over the past two years – but this is only an increase of 21 on the figures quoted in NHS England’s GP Forward View.
Meanwhile, only a small number of physician associates have been placed in GP practices, while the scheme to increase the number of mental health workers in primary care by 3,000 hasn’t yet started.
NHS England has said that there is an ‘inevitable time lag’ in placing new GPs and other staff in practices.
Speaking to Pulse this week, NHS England director of primary care Dr Arvind Madan said that NHS England have made progress on recruiting GPs and non-GPs.
- 25 overseas GPs have been recruited in Lincolnshire, while areas such as Essex and Teeside are looking to recruit more;
- 28 GPs have agreed to stay in general practice as a result of the ‘retainers scheme’, which gives bursaries of up to £4,000 to GPs who were considering leaving the profession in an effort to make them stay;
- 76 GPs who had left UK general practice have come back to England as part of the ‘induction and refreshers scheme’, which pays a bursary of up to £3,500 a month to GPs while they are on placement and attempting to return to the performers’ list;
- 105 GP trainees have been placed in hard-to-recruit areas through a £20,000 ‘golden handshake’ scheme;
- 491 pharmacists have been placed in practices over the past two years through NHS England providing a percentage of the funding;
- NHS England is training thousands of physician associates, though very few have yet been placed in practices yet;
- 800 mental health therapists will be placed in primary care by March 2018 rising to over 1,500 by March 2019.
Dr Madan said: ‘There is an inevitable time lag in some of the initiatives. For the I&R scheme, people will take time to get through the process. The right things are happening but they are not showing in the figures yet. In reality, around 4,000 of the 5,000 GPs will need to come through training, with NHS England finding the other 1,000.’
It comes after official figures this week revealed that the GP workforce declined by over 400 in just three months between September 2016 and December 2016.