Locum GPs should be offered 'highly flexible' salaried roles in a bid to bring them into the substantive GP workforce, NHS England has said under new plans aimed at expanding the workforce.
Primary care networks and CCGs are expected to work together to put the new roles in place.
Commissioners are also expected to support GPs who have temporarily registered to practise during the pandemic to 'secure their fullest possible deployment', said NHS England in the plans, published today in a letter.
In the letter sent to GP practices and commissioners, NHS England's primary care director Dr Nikki Kanani noted it is 'critical' for many practices to secure additional GPs at this time, yet there are also a number of qualified GPs looking for employment.
Locums looking for more secure employment, retired GPs and newly qualified GPs should all be considered for substantive roles, said the letter, jointly signed by NHS England primary care strategy director Ed Waller.
The letter said: 'Securing additional GP capacity is a critical need for many practices yet at the same time there is also a pool of qualified GPs looking for employment.
'This includes locums who are interested in more secure employment, retired doctors who have offered to return to the workforce, and newly qualified GPs who graduated from training this August.
It later added: 'Systems and CCGs will want to develop supportive routes to back to practice for Covid emergency registered practitioners, in order to secure their fullest possible deployment, and work with PCNs to create highly flexible GP salaried roles for those who previously thought that only a career as a locum could offer them the flexibility they need.'
Today's letter follows the NHS People Plan, published last month, which described building on the ‘flexible working changes’ brought about by Covid-19 as ‘crucial’ for retaining staff across the NHS.
The Government has also announced that practices will be able to make use of salaried GPs who work flexibly across local areas via new ‘banks’ of doctors.
Locum GPs have encountered particular struggles during the Covid-19 crisis, including having to claim state benefits on the back of no work, and facing bureaucratic hurdles to join NHS 111's Covid Clinical Assessment Service, whilst retired GPs, who were encouraged to return to practise, were offered for free to GP practices.