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03.10.16

Rising costs discouraging GPs from returning to work

The heads of three charities that assist GPs have written to Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, the national medical director of NHS England, calling for action to address the financial burden on GPs returning to work.

In their letter, the heads of the Royal Medical Benevolent Fund, Cameron Fund and Royal Medical Foundation said the cost of retraining for GPs is part of the reason why the target of 5,000 more GPs by 2020 “appears unachievable”.

The charities said they had received increasing numbers of requests for help from doctors about the retraining costs of entering general practice after a period out of the workforce.

In addition, they said returning GPs are not being accepted by mutual insurers and are instead having to take out insurance with commercial companies, facing costs of up to £25,000 a year.

The letter concluded that it is “the responsibility of NHS England” to help meet indemnity costs for retraining doctors. The charities urged NHS England to consider the “urgent and important” issue.

Dr Maureen Baker, chair of the Royal College of General Practice, said she agreed that the re-entry process for GPs was too “slow and bureaucratic” and that she hoped a formal review of the scheme, due next year, would address some of the concerns.

An NHS England spokesman said: “Rising indemnity costs are having a serious impact on as well as stifling innovation in primary care delivery.

“We are determined to help resolve this issue and the recently launched General Practice Forward View is just part of the work we are doing with our partners to further support and the wider care primary care workforce.”

(Image c. Anthony Devlin)

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