A new campaign aimed at getting hundreds of family doctors to return to general practice will be launched this week.
It will raise the profile of a scheme that has already attracted almost 800 GPs into coming out of retirement, returning to the profession after taking a break or working in another occupation or moving from overseas.
NHS England and Health Education England (HEE) have produced a new brochure for GPs considering a return which details the improvements that the NHS Long Term Plan will deliver for general practice, with billions in extra funding and plans to recruit 22,000 health professionals to support GPs that will improve services for patients while also easing the GP workload.
The Induction and Refresher (I&R) Scheme will also be promoted through a digital, social media and print advertising campaign.
The I&R scheme was upgraded in 2016 with a new package of support to make it easier for doctors to return to the profession and a target of recruiting 500 GPs by 2020.
By the end of 2018, 785 GPs had applied to join the scheme.
Now NHS England and HEE are looking to recruit hundreds more to help deliver the ambitions of the NHS Long Term Plan.
Dr Nikita Kanani, NHS England’s acting medical director for primary care and a south-east London GP, said: “We’re delighted to see how many GPs have returned via the scheme, with more than 50% of the recruitment target already achieved.
“General Practice is the bedrock of the health service and is a priority as part of the NHS Long Term Plan. We understand the pressures GPs are under, and have invested an extra £978 million in core general practice funding by 2023-24 as part of the GP Contract, together with a pledge to recruit more than 20,000 healthcare workers to support family doctors over the next five years.
“This is just one of several plans we have underway to recruit more GPs, including having more trainees in place than ever before. So, it makes sense to raise the profile of a scheme that we know works and allows colleagues to return to practice safely and confidently.”
Steve Brine, health minister, said: “GPs are the bedrock of the NHS and primary care is at the forefront of our NHS Long Term Plan, with an extra £4.5 billion going to the sector. This investment shows our commitment to general practice and so we want to make it quicker and easier for former GPs to return to the profession, confident they will have the support and funding they need, so patients can benefit from their wealth of experience.
“Alongside this, we are recruiting record numbers into GP training while also looking at how we provide more support to encourage staff to stay within general practice.”