GPs could be persuaded out of retirement to solve shortages in new NHS plan

Paul Driscoll of the Suffolk GP federation previously said there is 'no easy fix' when it comes to s

Paul Driscoll of the Suffolk GP federation previously said there is 'no easy fix' when it comes to solving the GP recruitment crisis Picture: SUFFOLK GP FEDERATION - Credit: Archant

Long-serving doctors could be persuaded to abandon retirement and help tackle GP shortages in Suffolk and north Essex, it has emerged.

Major plans to shake up how GPs are recruited in the region – parts of which were recently ranked among the worst places in England for patient-doctor ratios – are being unveiled by Suffolk’s NHS leaders today.

Featuring a new GP support hub, the proposals aim to plug current gaps by retaining services of senior GPs and attracting new recruits to the profession.

The hub, funded by the three clinical commissioning groups in Suffolk and north Essex, aims to attract newly qualified doctors into choosing a career in general practice over hospitals and other health organisations.

It also aims to persuade doctors currently considering retirement – or those who have already retired – to extend their careers.

News of these latest plans comes just weeks after NHS data laid bare the true scale of shortages in our region.

Ipswich and east Suffolk was ranked 11th worst in the country for patient-GP ratios in England, according to NHS digital figures

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Dr Paul Driscoll of the Suffolk GP Federation, who previously admitted there is “no easy fix” to the problem, said today: “We are dedicated to improving the career opportunities of doctors and other healthcare professionals working in general practice in Suffolk and north east Essex.

“As elsewhere in the UK, the local area faces many challenges in recruiting and retaining GPs.

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“We hope by providing support and advice on all matters relating to GP development, return to work, health and wellbeing, recruitment and appraisals we can help to encourage GPs to come and work here.

He added: “We also want more senior GPs to consider working for longer and would encourage them to contact our dedicated support line for advice.”

Hub staff will be at the end of the phone to provide serving and would-be GPs with information, advice and guidance.

Retired GPs wanting to get back into the profession and doctors aiming to get back to work after having children will also receive support, NHS bosses said.

Dr Christopher Browning, chair of the NHS West Suffolk CCG, said: “The CCG is pleased to be working with Suffolk GP Federation to offer this new local service for GPs in Suffolk and north east Essex.

“The GP Support Hub would particularly like to make contact with any GPs in the local community who are thinking of returning to practice

“There is a wide range of new job opportunities available and education and training packages to support them in returning to work.

He added: “We value all of our GPs and want to offer a bespoke advice service for our existing GPs and those who would like to come and work in the area.”

Dr Driscoll previously criticised offering GPs “golden hellos” of £20,000 to work in Ipswich and Colchester.

The towns are among 22 locations in England where family GP vacancies are hardest to fill.

At the time, NHS England said in response: “Across the country, all 265 places on the Targeted Enhanced Recruitment Scheme have been filled by trainee GPs and, since the scheme started in 2016/17 more than 500 trainee GPs have been recruited.

“Nationally, there is greater access to primary care now than ever before with 5,300 nurses, pharmacists and other health professionals working alongside GPs, weekend and evening appointments, and an extra £4.5billion investment in primary care through our long term plan, with primary care networks helping to free up extra resource for GP services in every community.”

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