Groundbreaking recruitment scheme boosts GP numbers in Havering

05 October 2018

Newly-trained family doctors have started work in Havering as part of a successful scheme to boost the number of local GPs able to care for patients.

The new recruits have all taken up roles at local surgeries following a ground-breaking recruitment drive that allows them to develop specialist medical skills – and help the local NHS to address a long-standing shortage of GPs across the borough.

Along with many other parts of London and the country as a whole, attracting and keeping GPs has been a major issue of concern in Redbridge.

In an effort to address this, local NHS commissioners and healthcare organisations joined forces with Health Education England (HEE) to consider how trainee GPs undergoing their medical training locally could be encouraged to stay in the area once qualified.

A scheme was developed that saw new GPs offered:

  • A permanent job as a GP at one of a number of GP practices in the borough
  • Mentoring by a senior colleague to support their education and career development
  • Weekly sessions working in a chosen specialist area including older peoples’ mental health, end of life care, quality improvement, education and teaching, emergency medicine, dermatology, young people’s mental health and community paediatrics.

GPs coming to the end of their training were invited to a careers ‘speed dating’ event to speak to local surgeries offering jobs, with hospital and community trusts providing the specialist sessions, funding support and supervision. This enabled them to identify and apply for the role that best matched their personal career interests.

Seven new GPs accepted offers from surgeries in Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge (BHR) where they are all working between four and seven sessions a week.

By taking on part of the workload, they are easing pressure on existing GPs – helping cut waiting lists and allowing them to focus on patients who require their support.

Dr Penny Evans, 33, has joined the team at North Street Medical Care in Romford. She is also doing one specialist session a week in palliative care at Queen’s Hospital.

“I wanted to stay in the area after my training so it’s been a great opportunity to start my career as a GP,” said Dr Evans (pictured). “The palliative care sessions allow me develop my specialist skills while I build my experience as a GP – that benefits me, the practice and the patients I see.

“Patients have been pleased to learn that I’m a permanent GP as many like to see the same doctor whenever possible. That continuity of care benefits the GP too.”

Dr Atul Aggarwal, Chair of NHS Havering Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and a local GP, said: “We’re delighted to have recruited these young doctors to work alongside their more experienced colleagues. It won’t solve all our issues with waits for appointments and the number of GPs retiring, but it shows we can attract good young doctors to this area if we make the job attractive.

“It’s a great example of what can achieved through organisations working together.”

The scheme was developed by the BHR CCGs in partnership with Health Education England; Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust; NELFT NHS Foundation Trust; BHR Community Education Provider Network, and Queen Mary University of London.

Its groundbreaking approach to boosting the GP workforce has been highlighted to senior NHS leaders in north east London and it is hoped it can be expanded in future.