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NHS England extends scheme to support GP retention in England

The GP retention programme will be extended for another two years, according to NHS England. 

An investment of £12m per year will be available to integrated care networks and transformation and sustainability partnerships to support the programme between 2019/20 and 2020/2021. 

Last year NHS England invested £18m to support GP retention, which it said was 80% more than originally planned (£10m). The scheme was initially meant to stop at the end of the financial year.

The extension to the programme was published alongside a toolkit with advice aimed at practices, networks and GP leaders about strategies to stop GPs from leaving thier jobs.

The toolkit stated the first step to developing a GP retention plan was to understand the needs of local GPs to determine what kind of support they require.

It goes on to suggest that leaders should encourage open dialogue between stakeholders to create a collaborative environment and that regular focus groups are a good way of doing this.

Another suggestion is to introduce new retention initiatives slowly, instead of making sudden changes, so that GPs are not overburdened by new information.

The toolkit includes examples of case studies to highlight what good career support for GPs looks like, how to create a good work-life balance for GPs, how to collaborate with GPs, and how to engage with local training hubs.

There is also a check list at the end to help practices start working on a retention plan.

Earlier this month, NHS England announced the broader rollout of a retention scheme that stopped hundreds of nurses from leaving the health service, to include general practice staff.

Health secretary Matt Hancock has also said he will consider increasing the GP workforce by an extra 5,000 in the upcoming NHS workforce plan.