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ICB portfolio pilot for mid-career GPs and pharmacists to be evaluated

ICB portfolio pilot for mid-career GPs and pharmacists to be evaluated
By Julie Griffiths
5 April 2024

Two pilot schemes to offer portfolio careers to clinical pharmacists and mid-career GPs in North East London ICB are being evaluated to decide on the future of the programmes.

The ICB ran the pharmacist pilot on behalf of NHS England Workforce, Training and Education and the programme for mid-career GPs was also a one-off scheme, funded by NHS England. Both pilots aimed to improve the retention of North East London’s existing workforce.

Since 2017-18, a salaried portfolio innovation scheme (SPIN) has been running across London as part of the General Practice Fellowship programme. It offered portfolio roles to early-career GPs and practice nurses alongside their jobs in general practice. 

In January, NHS England announced that the national scheme would close from 31 March.

A North East London ICB spokesperson said the ICB was now ‘looking to our own resources to develop SPIN from this year’.

‘This means we can look at potentially expanding the offer beyond newly-qualified GPs and nurses,’ he said.

A possible expansion of SPIN is one of several initiatives by the ICB to address shortages in its primary care workforce.

Chief executive of North East London ICB, Zina Etheridge, said: ‘We’ve got an ageing workforce – around a third of our GPs and practice nurses are 55 plus – and we’ve got fewer young GPs coming through so there’s a net reduction in numbers. This is no different to most other parts of the country.’

However, North East London ICB faced an additional challenge, said Ms Etheridge.

‘We also have a dynamic in London with inner London versus outer London weighting. It’s easier to keep people in central London than it is in outer London,’ she said.

The ICB has also been involved in setting up Aspiring to Partnership, which is tailored training for those interested in becoming a partner in general practice.  

North East London Training Hub commissioned the first cohort to go through the course run by Londonwide LMCs, starting in May 2023.

Ms Etheridge said that the ICB’s role was to help GPs to deliver services in new models.

‘GPs can be really entrepreneurial. We have to make sure that we continue to support GPs in models that enable them to be hyper-entrepreneurial, flexible and responsive in how they provide their services,’ she said.

 She added that the ICB was in discussions to work out how that might look: ‘Those are the conversations we’re having – what are the best models for doing that and what works for us locally?’

A full interview with North East London ICB chief executive, Zina Etheridge is available here.

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