General Practitioners: Rural Areas

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 23rd 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 progress his Department has made on recruiting additional GPs in rural locations.

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

The NHS Long Term Plan, published in January 2019, made a clear commitment to the future of general practice, with primary and community care set to receive at least £4.5 billion more a year by 2023/24, in real terms. 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 (PCNs) and longer appointments for patients who need them.

NHS England and Health Education England are working together with the profession to increase the GP workforce in England. This includes measures to boost recruitment, address the reasons why GPs are leaving the profession and encourage GPs to return to practice. The forthcoming People Plan will set out a broader strategy for a sustainable general practice workforce and how we will meet the commitment to the additional doctors working in general practice through both recruitment and retention programmes. Alongside our commitment to grow the GP workforce, the GP contract will see funding towards up to 20,000 extra staff working in PCNs by 2023/24.

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.

Additional incentives are available to attract GP trainees into previously hard-to-recruit areas, including rural communities. The Targeted Enhanced Recruitment Scheme, a £20,000 one off payment, is attracting GP trainees to parts of the country where there have been consistent shortages of GP trainees. Over 500 trainees entered TERs in 2016-18 and a further 276 places are available this year.

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.

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