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General Practitioners: Recruitment

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 8th October 2019.

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Photo of Jonathan Lord Jonathan Lord Conservative, Woking

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to (a) recruit and (b) retain GPs.

Photo of Jo Churchill Jo Churchill The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

In January 2019 we announced in the NHS Long Term Plan that we are investing an extra £4.5 billion in primary and community care by 2024. This was followed by the five-year general practitioner (GP) contract, which will provide greater financial security and certainty for practices to plan ahead and will see billions of extra investment for improved access, expanded services at local practices, the development of primary care networks and longer appointments for patients who need them.

NHS England and Health Education England (HEE) are working together with the profession to increase the GP workforce. This includes measures to boost recruitment, address the reasons why GPs are leaving the profession and encourage GPs to return to practice.

In 2018, a record 3,473 doctors accepted a place on GP specialty training. Additionally, NHS England’s International GP Recruitment programme is bringing suitably qualified doctors from overseas to work in English general practice.

We have a broad offer to support GPs to remain in the National Health Service including the GP Retention Scheme, the GP Retention Fund, the GP Health Service and the Releasing Time for Care Programme.

It is encouraging to see as of June 2019, over 250 more doctors, and over 800 more nurses and other staff with direct patient care responsibilities working in general practice compared to June 2018.

To address workload pressures and building on the success in expanding the wider workforce, the new five-year contract for general practice will see funding towards up to 20,000 extra staff working in GP practices, such as physiotherapists and pharmacists. This will help free up doctors to spend more time with the patients who need them.

The interim People Plan published in June 2019 set out the actions the NHS will take now to secure the right staff, leadership and culture it needs to deliver the Long Term Plan and high quality, safe care. The final People Plan will set out a broader strategy for a sustainable general practice workforce, through both recruitment and retention programmes.

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