NHS England aims to release £10m in funds to help retain GPs
On the day the news broke that over a million patients have had to move GP surgery in the last five years due to closures, NHS England has stated that it will release £10 million in funds to try to retain more GPs within the service.
£7 million of the funding will go directly into regional schemes with the aim of encouraging GPs to stay at local practices and to offer support through the ‘GP Retention Scheme’ that was launched in 2017.
The retention scheme was introduced to provide financial incentives to keep GPs considering leaving the profession from taking this decision. This encourages GPs to remain in clinical practice by working four sessions per week, for a maximum of 16 hours and 40 minutes per week, on a temporary basis for a maximum of five years.
The additional £3 million will be used to create seven “intensive support sites” in areas around England that have struggled to recruit or retain staff.
Dr Raj Patel, Deputy Director of primary care for NHS England, said: “We are aware of the pressures currently facing GPs and, in particular, the need to support the valued doctors we have to continue working when they are faced with personal challenges which might make this difficult. The Local GP Retention Fund will help to address this as part of several measures we have put in place to provide that much-needed support for GPs who are already working hard to provide great care for patients in their community.”
The UK government had also announced a plan to boost GP numbers by 5,000 by 2020/2021 but hitting this figure now relies on, rather than recruiting, simply retaining the large number of GPs that are looking to exit the service.
Particularly hard hit are the areas that already struggle to recruit staff, which tend to be in more rural areas.
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “The College, for several years, has consistently highlighted the pressures facing general practice, and the impact they are having on patient care, and the wellbeing of GPs and our teams, and we are frustrated at the slow pace of change.
“That’s why we urgently need to see NHS England’s GP Forward View, which promises an extra £2.4 billion a year for general practice and 5,000 more GPs by 2020, delivered, in full – and similar promises made and delivered in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – to ensure patients continue to receive the care they need and deserve, regardless of where they live.”