Workforce statistics issued by NHS Digital highlights an unsustainable reliance on locum GPs throughout the Midlands and East of England.
The recent report has placed locum usage in the region under the spotlight. The damning report looks into the workforce demographic, bringing to light severe shortcomings throughout the Midlands and East of England.
The report lists 806 GP locums across the Midlands and East of England, translating to roughly nearly 10% of the GP Workforce in the area. This is compared to 1.5% in the South of England, 2.5% in the North of England, and 4.3% in London.
There have been three large scale recruitment initiatives to increase workforce capacity across the area. The International GP Recruitment Scheme, The GP Retainer Scheme and The Targeted Enhanced Recruitment Scheme (TERS) more commonly known as the ‘Golden Hello’ scheme. However, the effectiveness of the aforementioned schemes is questionable.
The International GP Recruitment Scheme has come under heavy fire due to issues with the speed at which GPs are being onboarded, earlier this year Pulse reported only a fifth of the EU GPs promised for April had been recruited. Far fewer than the numbers needed to address workforce issues.
Similarly, The Golden Hello Scheme – which offers Junior Doctors £20,000 to take up a training place in an area facing severe GP shortages- has been heavily criticised due to the first beneficiary of the scheme not receiving their ‘Golden Hello’ GP for another 3 years yet.
Whilst in the early stages the GP Retainer Scheme was commended for being a proactive approach to recruitment, looking in retrospect the numbers are abysmal particularly in the Midlands and East of England. NHS Digital Data from December 2017 lists the number of GP Retainers in the Midlands and East of England at 62, meaning the Midlands and East of England currently have the second fewest number of GP Retainers of any area of the country with only London having less.
Taking a look into a breakdown of the numbers highlights the extent of the shortcomings with the retainer scheme, assuming all 62 GP Retainers are working 4 sessions – The maximum number of permissible sessions as a GP Retainer – the total number of session coming from Retainer GPs across the Midlands and East of England would be 248. This translates to 124 days’ worth of cover. With there being 2,378 practices across the Midlands and East of England, the Retainer Scheme has provided on average an additional 0.1042 sessions per practice per week.
Ultimately, NHS England are failing practices in the Midlands and East of England leaving Practices and Practice Managers in a complete recruitment crisis prompting a domino effect on CQC Scores, Patient Feedback Scores and other key performance indicators. It’s clear Practice Managers are going to require some ingenuity to ensure their practice is adequately staffed and running smoothly, as NHSE clearly aren’t to be relied on!