The news follows one month on from the announcement of the Local GP Retention Fund to provide an additional £10 million as part of the General Practice Forward View initiative to support areas that are struggling most with GP retention. Of this, £3 million will be used to establish seven intensive support sites in areas in England that have struggled most to retain GPs, including the Black Country Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) area. The remaining £7 million is being made available to support locally-based retention schemes across the country to help GPs to stay in the workforce.
Dr Kiran Patel, Medical Director for NHS England (West Midlands), said: “The new Local GP Retention Fund will enable significant changes to be made in how GPs are supported, whether they are newly-qualified, feeling the strain mid-career, or considering retirement. All our STPs have the opportunity to benefit but naming the Black Country STP as an intensive support site recognises the particular challenges they face in retaining GPs. It will enable them to get the help they need in consultation with local GPs and system leaders, and build on the additional GPs being recruited via the international recruitment pilot.”
The intensive support programme will help local areas rapidly to put in place suitable initiatives to retain local GPs, with learning shared between and beyond the Black Country and the other six sites. These will be closely be linked to existing national programmes of work being taken forward via the General Practice Forward View, including the Releasing Time for Care Programme.
Sites have been selected using a variety of criteria, including the level of challenge that the area currently faces in recruiting GPs and retaining those approaching retirement or choosing to leave the profession early.
The intensive support programme and the Local GP Retention Fund are the latest in a series of initiatives aimed at improving patient care by improving GPs’ quality of work life. These initiatives are in addition to significant investment by NHS England to attract new GPs to practices, including providing more training places and an international programme to recruit 2,000 GPs by 2020.