Exclusive A radical recruitment scheme offering sabbaticals and MBAs to GPs willing to come and work in under-staffed practices has been scrapped after failing to recruit a single new GP in a year, Pulse can reveal.
The scheme, launched in October last year by NHS Hull CCG, offered a package of incentives aimed at keeping GPs in the area for six years, as it was particularly hit by the national recruitment crisis.
Although it is not funded by Government’s 10-point plan for relieving the GP recruitment crisis, NHS England followed NHS Hull CCG’s lead and offered GP trainees ’an additional flexible year of training, where they can… get an MBA in leadership skills or another academic pursuit’.
GP leaders said the similarity of the schemes meant this was what they might ‘expect to see’ nationally.
Hull’s scheme, for which the CCG, Hull City Council, Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust and the Hull York Medical School had made available £600,000 has so far only spent £5,000 – all on advertising costs – as no new GPs have joined.
As part of the deal, the CCG promised to find overseas placements for trainee and qualified GPs, to fund an MBA or a Master’s degree in education or leadership. In return it expected GPs to work across multiple under-staffed practices and remain in Hull for a minimum of six years.
Responding to a Pulse FOI request, NHS Hull CCG said: ‘The CCG has not recruited any GPs as a result of the scheme.’
The FOI response further revealed that the scheme was ‘amended and re-launched in May 2015’ to reduce the time applicants needed to spend in Hull to three years, give more flexibility in terms of sessions worked and scrap the idea of rotation between practices.
It added: ’We received five applicants to the second offer, all of which were shortlisted. However four withdrew prior to interview and the final candidate was not appointed.’
An NHS Hull CCG spokesperson said: ‘The scheme, following two unsuccessful recruitment attempts, is not still on offer. However the CCG is looking at various other ways to support general practice and address workforce issues.’
Dr Susie Bayley, vice chair of GP Survival, said: ‘The innovative scheme run by Hull CCG is similar to what we are expecting to see nationally, as CCGs use money from the 10 point recruitment plan to tie GPs into longer term salaried posts [but] there are several problems with this.’
She said the problems included doctors being ‘hesitant to commit themselves to long-term schemes’, while there was still ‘a great deal of mistrust’ between GPs and the Department of Health regarding its ‘long-term vision’ for general practice, and as such schemes would need to offer a more ‘considerable incentive’.
Dr Russell Walshaw, chief executive of the Humberside Group of LMCs, said: ‘Maybe CCGs aren’t the best [organisations] for recruiting for GP practices. It may be better for practices to recruit their own doctors.’
One of NHS England’s ten points to tackle the recruitment crisis said: ’Offering GP trainees an additional ‘flexible’ year of training where they can train in a special interest, get an MBA in leadership skills or another academic pursuit.’
This is the latest proposal for relieving the pressures in Hull, previously including a suggestion of moving to a wholly salaried model of general practice which the CCG said was ‘never a plan’.
Meanwhile, NHS Hull CCG has also set out plans for all of its 55 GP practices to come together by geography and merge into eight super practices by April 2017.
The CCG spokesperson said: ’We hope that by practices working together collaboratively and developing new models of care they will be in a better position to deliver an expanded range of services which will make working in Hull as a GP potentially a more attractive proposition.