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GP recruitment drive backed by £700,000 'golden hello' hike and extra training year

GP recruitment drive backed by £700,000 'golden hello' hike and extra training year

Health Education England (HEE) has made an additional £700,000 available to attract trainees to understaffed areas and is adding 'a fourth year' on to some GP training programmes in an all-out bid to hit GP recruitment targets this year.

HEE has repeatedly flagged the likelihood that it will fail to recruit enough GPs as 'high-risk' - and has consistently fallen short of its mandate to recruit 3,250 a year, which could spell problems for the government's pledge to increase the GP workforce by 5,000 by 2020.

For 2017/18, HEE has identified missing this target as the highest risk facing the organisation and set out initiatives to help mitigate this risk in a strategy document.

HEE faces a 20% reduction in its overall budget, although it has told GPonline that GP training spending will be protected from any cuts. Part of the HEE plan to ensure trainees remain in hard-to-recruit areas is to develop post-CCT fellowships to act as a 'fourth year of training'.

The Targeted Enhanced Recruitment Scheme (TERS) - which offers students a one-off payment of £20,000 to work areas that have struggled to recruit - will also be expanded by 33% this year. In 2016, the scheme's inaugural year, 109 places were on offer.

There will be 144 posts across eight localities on offer this year, meaning an additional £700,000 is available overall. The scheme was popular last year, with 105 trainees entering the scheme, although HEE aired some worries that the scheme was merely shifting recruitment problems to nearby areas rather than solving the problem.

HEE confirmed that its Nothing General about General Practice campaign will continue throughout this year, having procured a marketing agency and forming plans to support the next round of recruitment.

Its chief executive Professor Ian Cummings said this year's campaign was already underway, with a series of adverts currently running on radio station Capital FM and social media site Instagram.

HEE is also working on implementing a plan to raise the profile of GP careers in medical schools, following research demonstrating a link between increased teaching time in general practice and the likelihood of students to opt for GP careers.

Pilots are underway to develop new 'GP assistant' roles across north-west England, the north of England, parts of London and Yorkshire to 'support with the administration burden in general practice' much like a dental assistant would in a dental practice.

HEE said work to 'fully consider the definition of the role' was complete and it was now creating an 'apprentice standard' to further support development.

Source: GP Online

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