Nottinghamshire LMC's ‘Portfolio Plus’ scheme, which was introduced in May 2018, helps local GPs to find opportunities for portfolio work by linking them with an experienced portfolio-working GP colleague. The LMC hopes that this will enable GPs to enjoy a better working life and improved wellbeing, which in turn will improve GP recruitment and retention in the area.
Speaking to GPonline, Nottinghamshire LMC committee member Dr Christine Johnson said that GPs who have taken part in the scheme so far have reported a ‘considerable improvement in levels of job satisfaction and wellbeing'.
‘Along with many other areas in the country, Nottinghamshire LMC has become increasingly concerned about the wellbeing of local GPs and the impact on retention,’ Dr Johnson said. ‘As a result, Nottinghamshire LMC have worked collaboratively with a variety of other organisations such as the RCGP, CCGs and NHS England to explore possible solutions.’
Earlier this year, analysis GPonline revealed that the uptake of the GP retainer scheme has been dwarfed by the number of doctors quitting the profession each month.
While still in its infancy, the scheme offers those interested in developing a portfolio career one-to-one sessions with a senior GP in a protected environment to discuss career development and possible opportunities that could work alongside traditional general practice. The scheme also links GPs with local peer support networks to provide practical and emotional support.
Dr Johnson said: ‘Currently, working more than six sessions per week in standard general practice is proving too exhausting for many GPs and sadly some feel their only option is to leave general practice.
‘The hope is that, by celebrating the broad skill sets GPs have and the many opportunities available for them, GPs can continue to work in clinical practice locally in a resilient and sustainable way. It would appear that there is nothing similar locally and so [the scheme] is meeting an unmet need - particularly at these very difficult times in general practice.’
RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said: 'At a time when our workforce is haemorrhaging GPs, retaining our existing workforce is essential, and portfolio working can offer both variety and flexibility that might encourage GPs to stay in the profession for longer.
'That’s why it’s brilliant to see these schemes, particularly those that are targeted locally, highlighting the potential of general practice and inspiring GPs who might, due to the current pressures, be feeling disenchanted to consider new ways of working in the community.'
So far, 23 GPs have taken part in Portfolio Plus, which builds on learning from the NHS career plus pilot sites established over a year ago.
‘Since the scheme started we’ve been surprised at how many opportunities there are for portfolio working and yet how difficult it is to access this information as a working GP,’ Dr Johnson added.
‘GP colleagues providing advice have been pleasantly surprised by how appreciative the GP applicants have been to receive the service.’