Panic Incentives are too late – “short termism trumping best practice”?

The bribe to work in a remote, deprived or unpopular area is interesting, and was suggested by NHSreality some months ago. But it is really too late, and this and the £12,000 “return to work” inducement are unlikely to make a difference. Let’s wait and see… but NHSreality sympathises with Stephanie Lis; It’s “short termism trumping best practice”. Nevertheless. pragmatism says you have to start somewhere.. The real problem is the long term rationing of medical school places, and the gender bias.

Sophie Borland on 26th May in the Mail reports: NHS to offer £8,000 to GPs… for school fees: Doctors to be offered ‘relocation allowances’ if they decide to move to areas that are short staffed

Zoie O’Brien on 27th May in the Express reports: GPs given £8K for children’s private school fees in desperate bid to fill remote surgeries – DOCTORS will be offered thousands of pounds to send their children to private boarding schools – if they take jobs in remote areas.

New plans to offer GPs £8,000 towards private education will be rolled out by the Government in a desperate attempt to fill severely short-staffed surgeries.

As demand for doctors rises with ageing and growing populations, the NHS is faced with a recruitment crisis.

Now, doctors will be handed one-off ‘relocation allowances’ for agreeing to take up posts in remote areas of England if a pilot scheme is successful.

Doctors only need to move 50 miles away to be eligible and they can work part-time – a minimum of two and a half days a week.

The pilot scheme will take off in areas such as the Lake District, the Isle of Wight, Lincolnshire and Lancashire.

Doctors will be offered a maximum of £10,000 of which £2,000 will cover education and training if they are returning to work after time off or maternity leave.

The remaining cash can be put towards ‘relocation expenses’ including estate agency fees, removal men, renting a flat or putting their child in boarding school if they don’t want to disrupt their education.

Boarding fees are on average £10,000 a year, a cost which rises at prestigious schools.

But plans have been met with anger from some.

NHS England will oversee the scheme mostly aimed at GPs who currently only work a few days a week, have moved abroad, or are taking a career break.

The payments are a one off and doctors must stay in the job for three years if they take the cash.

Supporters of the scheme say it is vital to offer incentive in a time some communities are facing real difficulty in getting community medical care.

In recent years young medical professionals have opted for hospital based careers while GPs are dropping their hours and retiring earlier – leaving a void in some practices.

Dr Maureen Baker, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, which helped draw up the scheme said: “Making it easier for trained GPs to return to frontline patient care after a career break or period working abroad is a priority for the College, and this scheme that targets returning doctors to work in areas most in need makes a lot of sense.

“It’s important that adequate safeguards remain in order to ensure patient safety, and that every GP who wants to return to practise in the UK is treated equally, but we need to cut through any unnecessary red tape, and working with NHS England, I’m pleased that we are making strides in this area.

“We hope this scheme will encourage returning GPs in hard to recruit areas in the best interests of providing safe care now and in the future, wherever our patients live.”

At a time when the NHS is rationing drugs and treatment, the Government has been accused of throwing cash at well paid GPs.

Jonathan Isaby, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “This will certainly raise eyebrows. We are forever hearing pleas for more money to be put into the NHS so taxpayers will be right to question if the authorities have got their priorities right.

“Hard-pressed families expect their taxes to pay for nurses and cancer drugs, not to be wasted on fees for expensive boarding schools which many cannot afford for their own children.”

Stephanie Lis from the Institute of Economic Affairs think-tank said: “This is yet another example of short-termism trumping best practice in the NHS.

“Throwing money at already very well-paid doctors will do nothing to fix the systemic problems with our centralised system of healthcare provision.”

GPs average salaries are around £100,000 a year and they soared by more than a quarter under a contract 10 years ago that also enabled them to give up out of hours work.


This entry was posted in A Personal View, Rationing, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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