The plan said that the NHS must build on the flexible working that had developed during the COVID-19 pandemic as a key way to retain staff.
The document said: 'NHS England and NHS Improvement will work with professional bodies to apply the same principles for flexible working in primary care, which is already more flexible than other parts of the NHS.
'Building on pilots, [NHS England] will encourage GP practices and primary care networks to offer more flexible roles to salaried GPs and support the establishment of banks of GPs working flexibly in local systems.'
The People Plan, which sets out measures to boost staff wellbeing, recruitment and retention in the coming year, said that primary care networks (PCNs) should prioritise the use of staff from these banks before 'more expensive agency and locum options'.
It highlighted NHS England's commitment to work with the government to meet its target of adding 6,000 GPs to the workforce. However, further detail on expanding staff numbers across the NHS, alongside future education and training requirements, would not be possible until the government had clarified budgets, the plan warned. This is due to happen in the spending review later this year.
Racism and discrimination
The plan also set out how the NHS would take steps to tackle racism and discrimination against the backdrop of the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on healthcare workers from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds and the Black Lives Matters movement.
It said the NHS must address the 'disciplinary gap', which results in BAME workers being disproportionately represented in the numbers who enter formal disciplinary procedures.
There are also plans to overhaul recruitment and promotion practices to make sure that an organisation's staffing reflects the diversity of its community, steps to improve diversity at leadership levels, education and training on race and work to help BAME staff feel more able to speak out about discrimination.
To help promote staff wellbeing across all groups, all NHS organisations will be expected to appoint a wellbeing guardian. In primary care, the People Plan suggested that this post could be held at PCN-level.
PCNs have also been encouraged to 'take immediate action to recruit additional roles funded by the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme'. The plan said that CCGs and local healthcare systems should help them to do this.
However, while welcoming the People Plan, healthcare leaders warned that the latest publication was still just a 'stop gap'. The King's Fund said that it fell short of the full workforce strategy that the NHS needed.
King's Fund director of leadership and organisational development Suzie Bailey said: 'Delays to government spending decisions mean the plan lacks the long-term investment and concrete commitments needed to recruit the doctors, nurses and other staff needed to address workforce shortages and meet the government’s manifesto commitments.'
The NHS Confederation said the People Plan was an 'instalment, not the finished article' and called on the government to provide a 'a comprehensive and realistic multi-year settlement' in the spending review.
Recruitment and retention
Health secretary Matt Hancock said: 'Every single person working in the NHS has contributed to an unprecedented national effort to beat back this virus and save lives. They have protected us and in return this Government will do everything in its power to protect and support them.
'By making the NHS the best place to work we’ll recruit and retain more talent and deliver 50,000 more nurses, 6,000 more doctors in general practice and 26,000 staff primary care professionals.'
A number of measures to improve GP recruitment and retention were also announced as part of this year's GP contract deal. A £20,000 golden hello payment scheme for new GP partners began earlier this month, and last week NHS England announced GPs on the NHS 'induction and refresher' scheme can now claim up to £2,000 per child for childcare support. Both schemes will be backdated to April.