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Have we run out of possible solutions to the workforce crisis?

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This week saw the publication of the long-awaited report on the NHS’s long-term workforce strategy. To be honest, it was bit of a damp squib for GPs. There was the push to make pensions more flexible – although accountants soon questioned how successful this would be.  

There were another couple of ideas – a new fellowship scheme for newly qualified GPs, and a commitment to promote the potential for working portfolio careers for GPs. I can’t criticise this – I said much the same last year

Yet the interim report seemed to kick the can down the road, promising that there will be more on GP recruitment strategy when the final report is published. 

I fear we may be getting to the point where one of these radical measures will be on the table

I can’t accuse NHS England of not understanding the problem, or not trying solutions. There have been plenty: international GP recruitment, incentives for GPs to stay on or return to practice, marketing campaigns geared towards medical graduates, etc. In fairness, they have managed to increase the number of GP trainees to record numbers. 

But let’s face it, all these solutions are having minimal impact as last week’s updated figures on workforce showed – even those trainees are not guaranteed to stay on, and won’t be ready for a while anyhow. 

It may be that there are no solutions left that we can do in the current environment. It will need radical changes – some I am comfortable with, others I am not. For example: huge investment, which seems obvious, but is not going to happen in the current environment; a cap on workload, which has its problems; charging for care, which is highly undesirable; or ditching the partnership model, which would carry the risk of removing everything that is good about general practice. 

I fear we may be getting to the point where one of these radical measures (and I don’t mean extra investment) will be on the table. 

Jaimie Kaffash is editor of Pulse. Follow him on Twitter @jkaffash or email him at