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NHS to promote portfolio careers as part of new workforce plan

The NHS has committed to making general practice a ‘more attractive’ place to work by promoting portfolio careers, as part of its interim workforce plan.

Published today, the plan has also pledged to roll out a voluntary two-year Primary Care Fellowship programme for newly qualified GPs and nurses entering general practice by March 2020.

However, the authors said there will be more about general practice recruitment when the ‘full’ people plan is released.

The report said: ‘The full People Plan will set out a broader strategy for a sustainable general practice workforce and how we will meet the commitment to an additional 5,000 doctors working in general practice through both recruitment and retention programmes.’

The full people’s plan is set to come out following the next spending review in autumn/winter when the Government will confirm how much investment is available for education and training.

The plan has faced multiple delays and leaks since it was due to be published in April.

NHS Improvement chair Dido Harding, who authored the interim plan, said: ‘This plan clearly acknowledges the workforce challenges the service faces. I want frontline NHS staff to know that we have heard their concerns about the pressures they face and we are determined to address them.

‘The NHS needs more staff to meet the ambitions for patients set out in the NHS long-term plan. But that, on its own, is not enough. We need to change the way people work in the NHS to recognise the changing needs of patients and to create a modern, caring and exciting workplace that should be the best place to work in England. This will take time but this interim plan sets out a clear direction of travel and commits to the immediate actions available to us.’

RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said the College welcomes the ‘focus on retaining existing, experienced GPs’ but that there is still a work to be done to provide more detail.

She said: ‘We welcome the focus on retaining existing, experienced GPs in the workforce, and appreciate the commitment in today’s plan to address barriers to this, such as current pensions rules, and on making the NHS a workplace that people want to work in.

‘We also know that providing appropriate support to GPs in the first few years after training is vital to keeping them in the workforce, so we also welcome the concept of a two-year primary care fellowship scheme and look forward to more details as to how it will be delivered and funded.

‘Training capacity in primary care must be developed, and the funding must be provided so that hard-pressed GPs have the time, resources and suitable premises to deliver the training for the future generations of GPs and the wider team.

‘To this end, we have written to Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock outlining the current unfairness in the way undergraduate GP placements are funded compared to secondary care placements and made clear that this must be addressed urgently.’

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the interim plan is the first step to make a ‘more supportive culture’ a reality.

He said: ‘We are securing the future of our NHS for generations to come with record investment through our long-term plan, but there’s no question: we need more staff and a more supportive culture to make that plan a reality.

‘The interim people plan is the first step. It sets out plans to train more, hire more, and retain more staff. The NHS will take immediate action over the coming year to lay the foundations to grow a future workforce that can truly deliver the highest-quality care to patients from the cradle to grave.’

In early May, the interim plan was expected to be published, addressing the key issues facing general practice workforce issues. but was delayed again, marking the second delay.