Doctors considering return to general practice are to be offered help with care costs as part of a growing package of measures aimed at increasing the number of GPs.
The care support will be worth up to £2,000 and is on top of a £3,500 bursary available to doctors updating their skills in general practice. NHS England said the scheme was available to qualified GPs and those joining from overseas. Returning doctors are also allowed up to four free attempts at competency assessments.
Some 500 doctors have already taken advantage of bursaries to resume work as GPs over the last four years. NHS England says another 500 are in the pipeline.
Dr Samira Amane, from the British Medical Association’s GP committee, said: “General practice continues to be in desperate need of doctors, and therefore it makes no sense for childcare and other caring responsibilities to be a barrier for those GPs who want to offer their valuable and much-needed skills to the NHS. These may be doctors who have taken time away from practice to have children and we must do all we can to support them when they want to return to the frontline.”
NHS England medical director Dr Nikki Kamani said: “There is a direct route for those that wish to return to a career in NHS general practice, at a time when the NHS needs all the expertise it can draw on to help in the ongoing response to coronavirus – and thanks to this brilliant scheme, it has never been easier.”
Royal College of GPs chair Professor Martin Marshall welcomed the news but said more effort is needed to recruit GPs. He said: “As we move to the next stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the focus of efforts to tackle the virus shift from hospitals to the community, we need every GP we can get on the frontline, delivering patient care.”