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At the heart of general practice since 1960

2,000 GPs get golden hello

The Department of Health has paid out approximately £15 million to nearly 2,000 English GPs in 'golden hello' incentives.

Since the scheme was introduced in March 2001, 1,988 GPs have received a windfall, with 993 qualifying for the higher payment of £10,000

after taking up posts in under-doctored areas.

Details of the scheme emerged in a parliamentary written answer from Health Minister John Hutton to

Brian Cotter, Liberal Democrat MP for Weston-Super-Mare, about the state of GP recruitment.

The response failed to mention crucial figures showing whether there was an overall net increase in GPs after retirements are accounted for.

A department spokesman said these were unavailable.

Mr Hutton's written answer revealed 124 out of 300 PCTs are currently under-

doctored.

Only five of the 28 English strategic health authorities ­ central London, north-west London, Avon, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire, South West Peninsula and Thames Valley ­ are said to have sufficient doctors.

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