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Soon after Chaand Nagpaul was elected as BMA GPs committee chair, the team started developing a workforce strategy to bring together all the various GP workforce initiatives under one plan.
We used this to lobby NHS England and Health Education England to work with us to develop and deliver workforce initiatives to stem the tide of GPs leaving the workforce. It would be fair to say that the new working relationship and the acknowledgement from NHS England that GP needs rescuing has generated many initiatives in a relatively short space of time.
This started with NHS England’s 10 Point Workforce Plan and has now developed into the General Practice Forward View.
One of the early announcements was the 2015 GP induction and refresher scheme. For the first time, the process was standardised across England. There was a bursary and some reimbursement of costs for GPs wanting to either start working in or returning to NHS general practice. Would this solve the problem?
In short, no. My inbox was full of GPs wanting to return to the NHS but being put off by the bureaucratic processes of the 2015 scheme. The rules were too rigid, the funding was inadequate, common sense was replaced by tick boxes, experienced GPs who were training future GPs in Australia and other countries were being asked to sit assessments that were way beneath them and the complaints poured in. LMC colleagues from up and down the country helped us put together a list of unacceptable barriers which made the revision of the scheme essential. So, what is new in the revised scheme? The package reflects nearly £5 million of increased investment in this scheme.
From November 2016:
Is this the end? Of course not. We do, however, now have a firm commitment from our partners to implement a programme of continuous improvement to the I&R scheme. No amount of money will convince a content GP from Bondi beach to move to Barnsley. But these revisions to the scheme will hopefully send out a clear message that GPC will not rest until we make the process of working in NHS general practice a straight forward one and an attractive one.
Krishna Kasaraneni is a GP in south Yorkshire and GPC policy lead for education, training and workforce
As a British-trained GP keen to return to GP practice in the UK, the one thing I would like to see is a common sense approach to assessing individuals needs to be approved to return. Why can a case assessment based on our experience, training and recent work not select exactly what steps need to be completed. More specifically if resitting exams is really appropriate for every person or not. Also, if resitting exams is needed to ensure 'safety to return to practice' why is the mark so high that hardly anyone applying is deemed safe to practice? Are all the returners that unsafe to return?!
Dr Ciaran Laughlin