In recent years there have been growing concerns about maintaining a sustainable workforce within general practice.
The number of unfilled GP posts quadrupled between 2012 and 2014, while the numbers of GPs fell substantially. Despite new government measures in 2015 designed to train an extra 5,000 GPs by 2020 and boost the proportion of medical students choosing general practice as a career, it has emerged that more than 1,000 GPs jumped ship between 2016 and 2017.
Although the initial workforce concerns were primarily about GP recruitment and retention, these issues are now affecting the wider workforce including practice managers.
The number of trainees staying in the county following the completion of their training is uncertain and GPs within their first five years are also leaving the local workforce. There are also issues surrounding more experienced GPs leaving the profession completely.
There has been engagement with the local GP workforce over the last few years and there is now a broad understanding of what would make a difference to their work-life balance and overall wellbeing.
It has been decided that a focus on “first fives” and in particular initiatives designed to support GP trainees from their training programmes into working in General Practice is likely to ease some of the workforce issues in the county.
In late January 2019, funding was awarded for four new workforce schemes aimed at increasing the numbers of trainees staying in Nottinghamshire following their training and through their first five years of work. Since then we have co-ordinated other support schemes for GPs in mid and late career, GPs returning to work after an absence as well as supporting the resilience of practices through schemes like Roving PM.
Through engagement with trainees and GPs working in Nottinghamshire, we identified there was a need for a ‘hub’ where doctors could access information about all the available workforce schemes in one place, which could support them and offer development opportunities.
The Phoenix Programme website brings together information about the existing and new workforce schemes available for trainees and GPs working in Nottinghamshire which doctors can register their interest in. The programme team will work with those doctors registering with the scheme to scope opportunities on their behalf, provide funding for skills development and offer access to mentoring support.