Extra cash for returning GPs

NHS England has announced the overhaul of its ‘Induction and Refresher scheme’ to encourage GPs to return to the profession by offering them a monthly bursary of £3,500 while they retrain.

This is a rise of more than £1,000 to the £2,300 offered on the existing scheme, which helps doctors who are returning from a career break or time abroad, and there will be additional funding to cover indemnity and professional registration costs. The scheme will also support GPs with the completion of paperwork, occupational health assessments and co-ordinating their placements.

The funding includes a £1,250 bursary, available until 31 October 2018 to help with indemnity costs. It also offers £464 towards membership of the General Medical Council (GMC). In addition, there will be new funding so that assessments can be run bi-monthly instead of quarterly.

According to NHS England, the new scheme will be more flexible and has new requirements, such as that ‘suitably trained and experienced GPs’ will not need to go through its processes.

This is an improvement, as after the scheme began in 2015, many GPs were put off by needing further assessments. In fact, only one out of the 108 who completed the initial assessment then returned to practice.

NHS England has said that over the next few months, they will develop a new framework ‘so that suitably qualified and experienced doctors can be added to the Medical Performers List without the need to complete the I&R process.’

As a spokesman for the British Medical Association (BMA) pointed out, one of the key factors undermining general practice in the past few years has been the mounting workforce crisis that has left many GP practices without enough GPs to deliver an effective service to patients.

An important issue has been the ongoing and unavoidable barriers that are put in place of GPs returning to work after taking career breaks or leaving the NHS for short periods. The BMA has therefore worked with the Government to design fresh induction and retention schemes that are properly funded.