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£20,000 GP 'golden handshake' scheme to be expanded this year

A scheme offering GP trainees a £20,000 bursary if they opt to train in one of the most under-doctored regions is being expanded to offer 144 places from April, an increase of 20% on last year.

An incentive scheme to attract trainees to eight areas badly affected by recruitment problems - including  Lincolnshire, Cumbria, Blackpool, Northern Lincolnshire and the Isle of Wight - attracted 105 GPs to fill the 122 positions available since April 2016.

The golden handshakes - officially called the Targeted Enhanced Recruitment Scheme - were revealed by Pulse to be one of the flagship measures for tackling stubbornly low uptake of GP training places.

Health Education England said GPs tend to stay in the areas they train and it is hoped the programme will encourage a long-term increase in the doctor population in these rural areas.

Any doctor who leaves training or moves to a different patch before completing their three year programme will be required to pay back the bursary.

An update from Health Education England on the scheme said: ‘These areas often have an extremely good track record for education, but are initially less popular simply because of their geographical location.’

‘However, those trainees that do relocate usually remain after training, as they discover the attraction of these locations. One hundred and five trainees entered the scheme in its first year, and currently, the scheme is recruiting to 144 GP trainee posts to eight programme localities.’

The TERS initiative accounted for half of the 200 extra doctors recruited to GP training after two rounds of recruitment last year, and training boards in Wales launched their own version of the scheme last year.

In Scotland – where a third of training places went unfilled last year – only 44% of the TERs places were filled.

Areas where trainees will be offered golden hellos in 2017/18 

  • East Midlands - Lincolnshire, Sherwood Forest
  • East of England - Kings Lynn, Great Yarmouth
  • North East - North Cumbria
  • North West - Blackpool, South Cumbria
  • South West - North Devon, Somerset
  • Wessex - Isle of Wight
  • West Midlands - Hereford
  • Yorkshire and the Humber - Doncaster, Hull, Northern Lincolnshire & Goole, Scarborough

Source: HEE

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