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BMA demands NHS England reinstates GP retention scheme

BMA demands NHS England reinstates GP retention scheme

The BMA has asked the primary care minister to intervene and demand NHS England reinstates an ‘essential’ GP retention scheme.

The union’s GP registrars committee wrote to Dame Andrea Leadsom opposing the decision by NHS England to discontinue the New to Practice Fellowship scheme.

The national funding for the scheme ended last month, with the commissioner leaving it up to ICBs to locally allocate money.

The scheme provides opportunities for newly-qualified GPs to work across PCNs, including funded time with a mentor as well as educational support, academic sessions and networking.

When NHSE announced that the funding for the scheme would be discontinued, GP leaders expressed concerns and said that if NHS England ‘truly believed in community care for patients and GP retention’ it would not be closing schemes aimed at retention of GPs.

The BMA letter, signed by GP registrars committee chair Dr Malinga Ratwatte and deputy chair Dr Elliott Philips, pointed out that ICBs are ‘already financially stretched’ and that without a commitment for them to fund the scheme, they are ‘already deciding to not provide it’.

The committee also said that current climate for training in general practice is ‘tough’ and that the NHS ‘should be doing all that is possible’ to retain GP registrars.

It said: ‘We urge you to instruct NHS England to continue providing the scheme at a national level for the benefits it will bring to patients, doctors and the NHS.’

The union said that the scheme fostered peer-learning and support networks locally, and urged the minister to instruct NHS England to continue providing the scheme, as it ‘can reduce burnout and help keep doctors in general practice’.  

The letter added: ‘We are deeply concerned that devolving the scheme to ICBs will jeopardise these invaluable benefits.

‘With immense financial pressure already on ICBs, if not protected nationally, this funding will be absorbed elsewhere in the system, to the detriment of patients and our members.

‘Continuing the New to Practice Fellowship scheme is essential for every region in England; not only to retain more GPs, but also to improve patients’ access to see their GP and get the standard and continuity of care they expect and rightly deserve.’

Pulse has approached NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care for comment.

A recent BMA survey found that nearly 73% of GP trainees are experiencing burnout and stress as ‘a direct result’ of their clinical work.

Last year, an NHS England director suggested that offering GPs more opportunities to have portfolio careers will help with recruitment and retention.

As part of a major investigation on recruitment and retention earlier this year, GPs have told Pulse that taking on portfolio roles could help retaining younger fully-trained GPs, as it stops them from leaving the profession entirely or emigrating.



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

Sal Kal 15 April, 2024 6:52 pm

The Government wants to phase out GP’s and replace by substitutes,,So why retention. The best thing is they themselves are destined be put in dustbin of history for creating crisis upon crisis.