The Government is set to pay up to £2,000 towards childcare costs for GPs joining via the induction and refresher scheme.
This applies to GPs who are considering coming back to the NHS, or joining from overseas, and aims to catch those where family responsibilities may be a barrier.
It comes as NHS England said that 500 GPs have now completed the induction and refresher scheme, launched in 2016, out of 1,000 applicants.
The new incentive forms part of the 2020/21 GP contract agreement, negotiated with the BMA, and also saw input from RCGP.
NHS England medical director for primary care Dr Nikki Kanani said: ‘GPs, like those in any other walk of life, might take time out from their career to raise a family which can bring additional challenges, move or work abroad or gain experience in a different profession or role.
‘But whatever the reason, there is a direct route for those that wish to return to a career in NHS general practice, at a time when the NHS needs all the expertise it can draw on to help in the ongoing response to coronavirus – and thanks to this brilliant scheme, it has never been easier.’
BMA GP committee workforce policy lead Dr Samira Anane said: ‘General practice continues to be in desperate need of doctors, and therefore it makes no sense for childcare and other caring responsibilities to be a barrier for those GPs who want to offer their valuable and much-needed skills to the NHS.
‘These may be doctors who have taken time away from practice to have children and we must do all we can to support them when they want to return to the frontline.
‘We are glad that this support – already available to employed workers – is now available to those on this scheme, and, after pressure from the BMA, has been extended to returning GPs with other caring responsibilities as well.’
Those already on the scheme can claim costs back retrospectively up to 1 April this year.
The new incentive is in addition to the £3,500 bursary and other benefits GPs on the scheme are entitled to.
These also include:
- a re-location package of up to £18,500;
- reimbursement of occupational health checks;
- up to four fully funded attempts at the assessments; and
- access to a national support team so that each GP has access to a dedicated account manager and contact point to support them through the entire process.
The induction and refresher scheme was launched as part of former health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s failed plans to add 5,000 GPs to the workforce by 2020.
The number of FTE GPs in England has hovered around the 34,000 mark over the last five years. However, the head count has risen by approximately 5,000.
This comes as the Government has pledged to deliver 6,000 more GPs, as well as 26,000 more supporting roles via PCNs.
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