Focus on retention in interim NHS People Plan welcome and necessary, says RCGP

Responding to NHS England and NHS Improvement’s interim NHS People Plan, published today, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “The NHS long-term plan contains aspirations that will be good for patients, but delivering it will depend on having the workforce – including thousands more GPs – to do so.

“We welcome the focus on retaining existing, experienced GPs in the workforce, and appreciate the commitment in today’s plan to address barriers to this, such as current pensions rules, and on making the NHS a workplace that people want to work in.”

“We also know that providing appropriate support to GPs in the first few years after training is vital to keeping them in the workforce, so we welcome the concept of a two-year primary care fellowship scheme and look forward to more details as to how it will be delivered and funded.”

“In general practice, increasing retention will furthermore be contingent on tackling GP workload and making our roles sustainable, so that hard-working GPs stay in work longer, and we can truly deliver the safe care our patients deserve.”

“There is clearly still lot of work to be done over the coming months to flesh out the details in this plan. We are pleased to see that the report already acknowledges Fit for the Future – the College’s vision for the future of general practice – and look forward to working with NHSE&I as to how our recommendations can be implemented.”

“Whatever the next iteration of the plan looks like, it’s essential that the forthcoming Spending Review ensures there is sufficient funding to deliver it.”

“Training capacity in primary care must be developed, and the funding must be provided so that hard-pressed GPs have the time, resources and suitable premises to deliver the training for the future generations of GPs and the wider team.”

“To this end, we have written to Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock outlining the current unfairness in the way undergraduate GP placements are funded compared to secondary care placements and made clear that this must be addressed urgently.”

“GPs and our teams deliver the vast majority of patient care in the NHS, and in doing so we keep the rest of the NHS sustainable, and we keep patients safe. This must be at the forefront of decision-makers’ minds as this interim plan is developed.”