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NHS England pledges to recruit 5,000 GPs as part of £206m plan

The NHS has announced a £206m investment as part of its GP Forward View report, published this month

Plans have been revealed by NHS England to meet government targets aimed at recruiting GPs and increasing the workforce in primary healthcare. The document outlines the ways in which the NHS will stabilise and transform the area of general practice in light of concerns that there is a gap in the quality of care.

As part of a sustainability and transformation fund, the money will go towards expanding the primary care workforce – and GPs in particular – to address current concerns that practices relying on locums is not conducive to a stable environment in healthcare. The major GP recruitment campaign will also aim to attract doctors from outside the UK, with an enhanced GP retainer scheme offering a more attractive package overall. The report also outlined plans for targeted £20,000 bursaries and fellowships to increase the number of GPs in areas struggling to recruit and retain doctors.

Government backing

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said in the run-up to the general election that he would train and retain 5,000 extra GPs by 2020. It has been established that GP trainees and 1,000 existing GPs will count towards this figure, prompting claims that the government’s pledge was on unstable ground. The General Practice Forward View said that 500 GPs will be retained in general practice by looking at financial incentives in areas that are under-doctored; in addition, there is a £2,300-per-month bursary on offer to doctors who plan to return to general practice.

Wider healthcare

It is not only general practice that stands to gain from the plans, with NHS England announcing that it would recruit a minimum of 5,000 other staff to work in areas such as mental health therapy and pharmacy. £15m will also be earmarked to develop practice nursing through both enhanced training and retention incentives. The issue of paperwork is also set to be tackled, with money being pumped into the training of admin staff to take on the clerical duties that are swamping GPs.

The ever-climbing workload of GPs has often been cited as a cause for concern; therefore, making their duties a more evenly-spread task could potentially mean GPs continuing longer into their working lives as the result of a reduction in pressure and stress.

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