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When a golden hello can make difference

'Golden hellos make little impact' read a headline in Pulse (News, November 25). Maybe, but don't knock them. Of course, it will take more than a one-off £5,000 to make a 40-year career in general practice more attractive at the moment. On the other hand, £5,000, even though not tax free, is very welcome to new GPs at a time when they need it. New principals usually find drawings are not as high as expected because of the tax system. Non-principals, including locums, also get hit by a big tax bill at the end of their first year. Financial incentives are also useful at a time when young doctors are building homes and families as well as a career, while golden handcuffs should be welcome to GPs who have missed out on merit awards.

The additional £5,000 may just tip the balance in favour of a job in a deprived area if a new GP is in the position of weighing up good offers from several practices ­ not uncommon these days.

So, for individuals, the golden hello can make a difference, even if it doesn't boost recruitment to general practice. And remember, we choose general practice because we want to practise family medicine, work in the community, provide continuity of care and with luck have a good life surrounded by family and friends. It's not just money.

Dr Luise Parsons

east London

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