GPs are to get their own health service to help avoid burn-out, while extra support will be available for those wanting to return to practice, it has been announced.
The new GP Health Service will have a budget of £19 million and provide access to mental health support for GPs and trainees, said NHS England.
There will also be a series of changes aimed at improving the induction and refresher scheme for doctors wanting to return to general practice. This will include an increase of more than 50% in the monthly bursary to £3,500, together with a £1,250 grant towards the costs of indemnity.
In addition, there will be a grant of £464 for General Medical Council (GMC) and disclosing and barring service fees. NHS England added that there will also be a new national support team available.
Rosamund Roughton, from NHS England, called the new service a ‘major step forward’.
She added: ‘We are responding directly to the concerns of the profession and implementing immediate, practical ways of helping GPs and those returning to a profession that remains one of the most rewarding careers in medicine.’
Dr Krishna Kasaraneni, of the British Medical Association GP Committee, said: ‘An important issue has been the ongoing and completely unavoidable barriers that are put in place of GPs returning to work after taking a career break or leaving the NHS for short periods.
‘We cannot afford to have highly skilled professionals sitting on the sidelines at a time when patient demand is rocketing.’
Royal College of GPs Chair, Dr Maureen Baker, said: ‘It is vital that GPs who want to return to practice aren’t put off simply because the process is too bureaucratic, and we’re optimistic that the improvements announced today will make the process even easier, and help us build our GP workforce, ultimately in the best interests of patient care.’