NHS England has launched a pilot scheme to boost recruitment in GP practices that have held vacancies for at least a year.
The initiative invests resources in practices that have found it difficult to recruit GPs by helping them promote and advertise their posts.
Through the targeted investment in recruiting returning doctors scheme, practices will be able to access up to £8,000 to relocate and up to £2,000 in both an education bursary and locum cover for when a new GP is taking educational sessions.
The scheme will also offer practices recruitment and marketing assistance to attract GPs who are currently looking to move back into the NHS.
With increasing numbers of GPs using the Induction and Refresher scheme to return to work in the NHS, the targeted investment will aim to encourage these doctors to find employment in deprived areas.
Dr Maureen Baker, chair of the Royal College of GPs, 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 practice 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.
She added: “It is now vital that this proposal, and others, are implemented effectively and as a matter of urgency in order to keep our profession – and the wider NHS – sustainable.
“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.”
The scheme forms part of NHS England’s commitment to recruit more doctors in areas with severe shortages, as laid out in the General Practice Forward View.
To be eligible, a practice must be able to demonstrate to their local NHS England team that, having tried to recruit recently, they have been unable to fill a GP vacancy for 12 months.
The practice must also demonstrate that the vacancy is causing a risk to the continuity of patient services.