Increased financial support for I&R doctors
From November 2016 HEE:
- Increased the monthly bursary for doctors on the I&R scheme from £2300 to £3500. This became available to new or existing doctors on the scheme
- Provides 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)
- Provides 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)
- Removed assessment fees for first time applicants (worth up to £1000).
Increased practical support for I&R doctors
In September 2016, NHS England established a new national support team based in Liverpool.
The team provides 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 scheme were too rigid and inflexible prior to the 2016 review. There was anecdotal evidence that suitably qualified and experienced doctors were being lost as they did not wish to undertake further assessments.
As part of the scheme review, NHS England has sought to 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.
NHS England has worked with stakeholders and local teams to develop a framework to assist local medial directors. This includes four key elements:
- National guidance/principles on approving doctors for the MPL
- 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, NHS England expects to work with HEE 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.
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.
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 and HEE are working with the BMA GP committee and other stakeholders to implement a programme of continuous improvement to the I&R scheme.