Doctors who become GP partners are to be offered a £20,000 “golden handshake” as part of a new deal for general practice announced last night.
Controversial proposals to require doctors to make regular visits to care homes have been amended in the deal agreed between the British Medical Association and the government. The BMA’s GP committee voted last month to reject the proposals amid widespread anger at the proposed targets for the new primary care networks, including the regular care home visits.
Under the proposals the networks will be responsible for ensuring regular visits by members of their multi-disciplinary teams – rather than by GPs. A second objective, proposed by NHS England, of regular medicine reviews is to be undertaken by pharmacists, not GPs, when there are enough pharmacists available.
The GP golden handshake scheme will also be expanded to enable 800 trainees to receive payments of £20,000 to work in under-doctored areas by 2022. There will also be childcare funding for doctors returning to general practice.
The latest proposals will still have to be confirmed by a conference of England’s local medical committees. Dr Richard Vautrey, chair of the GP committee, said there had been “months of challenging and tough negotiations.”
He said: “The significant investment in and focus on recruitment and retention, including payments to incentivise doctors to take up partnership roles and work in under-doctored areas, is a vote of confidence in the partnership model and a much-needed first step if we are to reverse the worrying trend of falling GP numbers that we have seen in recent years.”
Ruth Rankine, director of the PCN Network, said: “For PCNs to succeed, they needed to be given more time and support to develop their delivery models and a less prescriptive approach from the top, which allows them to service their local population needs. We are particularly pleased that they have recognised the need for management support to free up time for Clinical Directors to fulfil their roles effectively.”
The Department of Health and Social Care said the deal would be worth £1.5 billion over four years. It said there was now a “roadmap” to increase GP numbers by 6,000 and recruit another 26,000 staff in general practice.
Royal College of GPs chair Professor Martin Marshall said the deal was “encouraging.”
He said: “We hope it will serve as a catalyst to deliver the funding and workforce pledges that have been made and are so desperately needed to ensure general practice is sustainable in the future.”
NHS chief executive Simon Stevens said: “Coming on the heels of the highest ever number of young doctors now choosing to train as GPs, this is a vote of confidence in general practice that goes with the grain both of what patients need and what GPs themselves want to provide.”