NHS Education for Scotland has created 100 more GP trainee places to start in February 2017, and is offering £20,000 ‘golden hellos’ for GP trainees going to 37 hard-to-fill locations in rural and remote areas.
At the same time, it has launched a recruitment drive to encourage more junior doctors to consider general practice in Scotland.
The 100 new places increase the total GP trainee places in Scotland to 439, after the main recruitment round earlier this year – although 88 of the original posts remain vacant.
NHS Education for Scotland has said it will review current training places, including the four-year programmes, in an attempt to entice more medical graduates into general practice.
It is advertising these places on behalf of Scottish Health boards, with applications open from now until 25 August.
Health secretary Shona Robison said general practice was at ‘the heart of our NHS, and is becoming ever more important’.
She added: ‘That is why we are investing to recruit more junior doctors into GP training posts – with 100 extra places advertised this year to help build the primary care workforce of the future.
‘However, we know there are some parts of the country that have challenges recruiting – mainly because of their geographical location. So we’re offering a financial incentive with certain posts to fill these vital training places.’
As well as the training places, the Scottish Government and NHS Education Scotland have launched adverts and a social media campaign to promote GP training in Scotland.
A statement by NHS Education for Scotland said: ‘The Scottish Government and NHS Education Scotland drive aims to highlight the benefits of living and working as a GP in Scotland. A series of adverts and a social media campaign will run to raise awareness of the opportunities that medical training in Scotland provides.’
Dr Miles Mack, chair of RCGP Scotland, said: ‘We are delighted to see the expansion of GP specialty training numbers as it is through increasing the size of the GP workforce that we can meet the needs of patients across Scotland.’
This comes after applications for training places increased by 27% this year, although one in four GP practices in Scotland have a vacancy. Ms Sturgeon announced in October that GP training places in Scotland would increase from 300 to 400.
Health Education England has run a ‘golden hello’, with incentives given to 109 candidates who train in the seven areas with the lowest GP training fill rates, including Lincolnshire, Blackpool, the Lake District and Isle of Wight.