£10m plan aims to recruit more GPs
Health leaders have announced a £10 million investment as part of a plan to recruit and retain more doctors.
The NHS England funding will be used to develop a range of initiatives to boost GP numbers and develop the role of other primary care staff such as nurses and pharmacists.
Newly trained doctors will be offered incentives to work in sectors that are struggling to recruit by offering them a further year of training in areas such as paediatrics, psychiatry, dermatology, emergency medicine and public health.
The plan to retain more GPs includes a new scheme to encourage those who may be considering a career break or retirement to remain working on a part-time basis, while t he effectiveness of existing methods of retaining doctors will be reviewed.
A new initiative to encourage doctors to return to general practice will also be launched. It is hoped that this will recognise the different needs of those who have been working overseas or taken a career break.
Money will be invested to persuade GPs to return to the areas of most need, while pilot training hubs are to be based in some practices to enable nurses and other primary care staff to gain new skills.
Last week the Royal College of GPs (RCGP) unveiled a national recruitment video to show the varied role of GPs in the health service.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: "As we move more care out of hospital into the community, and continue to focus on prevention rather than cure, we need to support this with greater access to primary care.
"I welcome this ambitious plan which helps set a clear direction for the future of general practice, and I hope it will encourage even more young, aspiring medical students to take up careers as GPs."
The £10 million of funding is part of the NHS Five-Year Forward View, which aims to tackle workforce issues.
It comes from £1 billion of additional investment for primary care infrastructure over the next four years, which was announced in the Autumn Statement.
The Government has committed to train 10,000 more primary and community health and care staff by 2020, including 5,000 more GPs.
Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said: " Primary care is the bedrock of the NHS and the Five-Year Forward View makes clear that it will play an even greater role in the future.
"We need greater investment in GP services, extending to community nursing, pharmacy and eye care services. This £10 million will kick start a range of initiatives to drive that forward so every community has GP services that best meets its health needs."
Professor Wendy Reid, medical director and director of education and quality for Health Education England, said: " This programme will spearhead a completely new cultural change within primary care, supporting a wider multidisciplinary team to work together by emulating successes in emergency medicine for the benefits of patients across the NHS.
"One innovative solution currently in planning is the development of regional training hubs, bringing together the wider expertise of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other specialisms tailored to the regional needs of patients locally. All of this underpinned by a more equitable and easier career route within a highly rewarding part of the NHS."
Dr Maureen Baker, chairwoman of the RCGP, said: " This action plan is good news for general practice and good news for patients. By tackling the three Rs - recruitment, retention and returners - this action plan gives us a real chance to build up the size of our GP workforce that our nation needs.
"General practice has been under great stress for the last decade, which has meant that family doctors have not been able to deliver the level of service to their patients that they have wanted."
Shadow health minister Jamie Reed said: "Patients struggle for appointments as the number of GPs falls under David Cameron.
"Medical students are put off by the intolerable pressure Ministers have placed on general practice. While twice as many GPs are emigrating and 60 per cent are considering early retirement.
"Even the Government's own report had to admit there's a 'GP workforce crisis' in England. David Cameron scrapped Labour's guarantee of a GP appointment within 48 hours and now a million people turn to A&E when they can't see their GP - a root cause of the Tory A&E crisis.
"That's why the next Labour Government will invest an extra £2.5 billion a year to recruit 8,000 more GPs and 20,000 nurses."