Exclusive PCNs have begun hiring salaried GPs to work across their member practices in ‘portfolio’ roles, representing the next stage in their development, Pulse has learned.
PCN clinical directors said they are using funding streams such at the investment and impact fund (IIF) to directly hire salaried GP as it’s not possible to hire GPs via the additional roles reimbursement scheme (ARRS).
NHS England has been promoting PCNs as providers of primary care, and networks hiring GPs to work across their practices is the latest indication that they are becoming increasingly prominent.
In some cases, these salaried GPs are being hired to provide acute care across the networks.
Dr Brigid Joughin, GP clinical director for Outer West Newcastle PCN, said that her network is hiring a salaried GP to help address on-the-day presentations, in instances where staff hired through ARRS cannot.
Joughin explained that while the ARRS roles do help, they have not changed ‘demand coming through the door every day’ which ultimately falls to GPs.
She said: ‘To try and overcome this, I applied for a GP fellowship role who would work across practices and that will be salaried within the PCN.
‘We’re now applying for a second role – because we’re so short – who will do a couple of sessions in a few practices and will also teach medical students.’
She added that her PCN is planning a ‘PCN acute service’, which will see patients who present on-the-day with urgent needs directed to a hub staffed by these salaried GPs.
Central North Leeds PCN advertised for ‘the first PCN salaried GP’ to work across practices in Leeds LMC’s February newsletter.
The bulletin said: ‘This role will involve education and support for all members of the team along with undergraduate/postgraduate trainees as required.
‘You will spend up to 25% of your week supporting colleagues, improving pathways and contributing to service design. The remainder will be working clinically within the seven PCN member practices as the need arises.’
In Doncaster South PCN, clinical director Dr David Coleman told Pulse PCN that while none of the practices in Doncaster employ a salaried GP to work for the PCN, ‘it is possible – not through ARRS but with some of the other funding e.g. IIF, Covid vaccination funds, various other funding streams.’
He said: ‘A salaried GP could help with care home work, lead on health inequalities, cancer etc. Our PCN does some research so this could be another target area. They could also provide relief for practices in the PCN as part of a business continuity plan.
‘By creating a portfolio of work and combining with adequate supervision and possibly some leadership training opportunities, it could be quite an attractive work opportunity.’
Similarly, Dr Jeremy Carter, clinical director of Herne Bay PCN in Kent, flagged that such a role might be attractive given that portfolio GPs are ‘becoming more commonplace’.
He said: ‘GPs who might want to do some core general practice GMS clinics, but might also have a special interest in frailty or learning disabilities could work across the PCN in that format.’
It comes as a recent report warned PCNs lack ‘clear purpose’ and adequate funding.
Health secretary Sajid Javid admitted in November that the Government is not on track to deliver its election manifesto pledge to recruit 6,000 additional FTE GPs by 2025.