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Figures show great divide on recruitment

Parts of the UK are becoming no-go areas for GPs where practices are utterly unable to recruit new partners.

A regional breakdown of Government GP vacancy statistics has revealed massive differences in practices' ability to attract GPs according to where they are located.

One-third of GP posts remained unfilled for more than a year, with urban and deprived areas worst hit.

London trusts, Tendring PCT in Essex and parts of Leicester, Nottingham and Bolton reported the most vacancies and greatest difficulty getting new GPs.

Yet the average time taken for vacancies across the UK to be filled dropped from 4.2 months to 3.5 months in the year to April 2003 and many GPs told Pulse they have had few problems recruiting.

Dr Robert Hughes, a GP in Woolwich, south-east London, one of the worst hit regions, said practices in deprived areas were finding it increasingly difficult to fill posts because of a lack of London weighting in the new GMS contract.

He searched for nine months to fill a post at his surgery and saw a suitable candidate reject his offer in favour of a practice in Sheffield.

Dr Hughes, chair of London LMCs, said: 'How can you compete? There he can get a five-bedroom house, probably with a swimming pool.'

Dr Kenneth Yates, a GP in Woodbridge, Suffolk, said he had found recruiting a new partner 'absolutely appalling' and had been looking for nearly a year.

'It's been difficult ­ we are working long hours and it's very stressful,' Dr Yates said.

West Pennine LMC secretary Dr Kailash Chand said practices in Oldham, where one in six posts are vacant, had huge difficulty recruiting new partners.

In contrast, Dr Steve Mort said his practice in suburban Hillingdon, Middlesex, had no problem during a recent recruitment drive.

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