Increased financial support for I&R doctors
From November 2016 we will:
- Increase the monthly bursary for doctors on the I&R scheme from £2300 to £3500. This will be available to new or existing doctors on the scheme
- Provide a time limited financial top up to the bursary of £1250 to assist with the costs of indemnity whilst on the scheme (available until 31 October 2018)
- Provide a time limited reimbursement (worth £464) to doctors on the scheme for the costs of GMC membership and DBS fees (available until 31 October 2018)
- Remove assessment fees for first time applicants (worth up to £1000)
Increased practical support for I&R doctors
NHS England has established (from 1 September 2016) a new national support team based in Liverpool.
The team will provide each I&R doctor with a dedicated account manager and contact point to support them through the entire process.
Moving forward the team will provide the following support to doctors on the scheme:
- Advice on the process and next steps
- Assistance and advice with completing forms and paperwork
- Assistance with arranging occupational health assessments
- Advice on arranging indemnity
- Co-ordinating assessments and placements on behalf of doctors
- Ensuring bursary and other financial support is provided in a timely manner
- Putting the doctors in touch with recruiting practices on the Targeted Investment in Recruiting Returning Doctors Scheme
- Providing support with any issues or problems that the doctor is encountering whilst on the scheme
Making it easier for doctors to return to practice
Supported by feedback from NHS England regional and local teams, it was concluded that processes for the current scheme are too rigid and inflexible. There is anecdotal evidence that we are losing suitably qualified and experienced doctors who do not wish to undertake further assessments as part of the scheme.
NHS England will empower its local medical directors so that they feel able to approve suitably qualified and experienced doctors for immediate inclusion on the National Medical Performers List without the need for these doctors to complete the current I&R process or assessments.
Over the next few months NHS England will work with stakeholders and local teams to develop a framework to assist local medial directors. This will include four key elements:
- National guidance/principles on approving doctors for the MPL. Existing criteria will be revised if required, in consultation with key stakeholders
- Required steps in the local assessment, including interviews and references
- Regional and/or national oversight of decisions
- National funding for on-going support and mentorship of doctors recommended for immediate inclusion on the MPL.
For those doctors still needing to complete the I&R process, we will work with Health Education England to reduce the length of placements for those scoring the highest assessment scores, and remove the requirement for these doctors to sit the simulated surgery.
Additional mentorship and support will be built in to the system to address any concerns around patient safety of reducing placement lengths.
NHS England and Health Education England are working to implement all of these changes before 1 April 2017.
Reducing the time it takes to return to practice
NHS England has committed to provide additional funding to increase the frequency of assessments under the I&R scheme. They are working to increase the frequency of these assessments from quarterly to bi-monthly.
This will mean that doctors on the scheme have less time to wait until they can sit the next round of assessments. NHS England and Health Education England are working to implement this increase before 1 April 2017.
Further improvements to the scheme
These improvements are not the end of the process of improving the experience of doctors returning to practice. NHS England is working with partners and stakeholders to implement a programme of continuous improvement to the I&R scheme. These will be announced in the coming months.