Partnership review backs early-career incentives to boost GP workforce

Trainee doctors should spend more time in general practice and be offered employment options such as primary care 'fellowships' to encourage them to take up substantive roles in the profession, according to recommendations in the GP partnership review.

GP trainee (Photo:

The review, published on Tuesday, aims to reinvigorate the GP partnership model for the ‘long-term future of general practice and the NHS’ - and sets out proposals to tackle the ‘workforce issues of recruitment, retention and education and training’.

Recommendations put forward as part of the review - chaired by Wessex LMCs chief executive Dr Nigel Watson - include plans to ‘refocus’ medical training so that more time is spent in general practice.

The move would allow trainees to ‘develop a better understanding of the strengths and opportunities of primary care partnerships and how they fit into the wider health system’.

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The review says: ‘Health Education England (HEE) should work with the GMC and medical royal colleges to explore options for including more time in general practice in training curricula at all stages of medical training. The GMC also has a role to consider how any changes agreed could be accommodated within their role to set standards for training and outcomes for medical education in the UK.’

The proposal comes just a week after GPonline revealed that former BMA chair and GP Sir Sam Everington was working with HEE and the GMC to develop a five-year GP training scheme based almost entirely in primary care.

The review also calls for a two-year primary care 'fellowship' scheme. The plans, trailed in the NHS long-term plan published last week, would allow recently-qualified GPs to ‘gain experience as a valuable employed member of the practice team in a supported environment’.

Primary care fellowships would offer a ‘secure contract of employment alongside a portfolio role tailored, where possible, to the aims of the individual and the needs of the local primary care system’.

Substantive roles

The scheme, which promises ‘an attractive salary and incentives’ for newly-qualified GP, aims to encourage registrars at the beginning of their careers to choose ‘substantive’ primary care roles rather than opting for locum work.

Alrthough it is anticipated that fellowships will be made available in every primary care network across the country, the review insists that they 'should not be seen as a compulsory extension to the GP training programme'. Instead, this route 'would represent a clear, alternative option to a more traditional partner or sessional role'.

Review chair Dr Watson said: 'We know there are GPs doing locum roles because they don’t see general practice as being stable, and they think there is too much risk.

'The fellowships are critical. If we can get a large number of younger GPs into substantive roles, then not only do we expand the workforce and ease workload, but we get people into roles that will develop the service going forward.

'We already have largest number of trainees ever, we need to secure the future for them.' 

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