NHS England has announced that it is offering allowances and bursaries totalling up to £12,000 to help practices recruit returning GPs into posts that have been vacant for a year or more. GP leaders have welcomed the scheme, and called for its urgent and effective implementation.
As well as encouraging GPs wishing to come back to work in the NHS, the scheme incentivises retained doctors to seek employment in areas that have historically struggled to recruit.
In addition to offering designated practices assistance with recruitment and marketing the pilot scheme offers:
• up to £8,000 in relocation allowances for qualifying GPs
• up to £2,000 in an education bursary for the first twelve months
• up to £2,000 locum cover for the educational development
To be considered for the scheme, a GP practice must be able to demonstrate to their NHS England local team that, despite frequent attempts, they have been unable to recruit and have held vacant GP post(s) for a minimum of 12 months – and that this is causing a risk to the continuity of patient services.
The GP must be prepared to relocate to work in a practice identified by NHS England as one that has historically struggled to recruit GPs; and the practice must be in excess of one hour’s normal travel from their previous home/work base (usually in excess of 50 miles).
The Royal College of GPs has welcomed the announcement of the incentive scheme. RCGP chair Dr Maureen Baker said: “NHS England’s GP Forward View offers a lifeline for general practice, and this is just one proposal to build the GP workforce contained within it.
It is now vital that this proposal and others are implemented effectively and as a matter of urgency in order to keep our profession – and the wider NHS – sustainable.
“We hope this scheme will encourage returning GPs in hard to recruit areas in the best interests of providing safe care now and in the future, wherever our patients live.”