Groundbreaking recruitment scheme boosts GP numbers in Redbridge

02 October 2018

Newly-trained family doctors have started work in Redbridge 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 groundbreaking 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 Naomi Oliver, 30, has joined the team at Fulwell Cross Medical Centre in Barkingside – the practice where she trained. 

Dr Oliver (pictured) will also be doing two medical education sessions a week, helping to train other new GPs through Queen Mary University of London. 

“It’s been a fantastic opportunity to start my career as a GP,” she said. “The medical education sessions mean the job is much more than being a trainee GP, which is great for me as I can build my specialist skills in an area I’m passionate about while helping the practice and its patients.

“The fact that I’ve been able to stay in Redbridge, working at the practice where I trained, is a real bonus. Everyone has been very welcoming and supportive – colleagues and patients.” 

Dr Anil Mehta, Chair of NHS Redbridge 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 ground-breaking 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.