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GP practices recruit trainees through low-cost accommodation scheme

GP practices in an area of England particularly hit by the recruitment crisis have been successful in attracting trainees by a scheme to offer furnished low-cost accommodation.

The practices in Copeland, West Cumbria – where 23% of GP positions are unfilled – have managed to attract four GP trainees from London to the area.

The aim is to attract trainees from oversubscribed London trainee schemes on six month placements by offering affordable accommodation, as these trainees will already have committed to London accommodation for the rest of their trainee placements.

GP practices, small businesses and Allerdale Borough Council are offering support in the form of covering the rent for cheaper accommodation and furniture with the hope that experience of rural practice will encourage the GP trainees to return in the future.

NHS Cumbria CCG have said that one property has been identified, but it needs to be furnished before the trainees arrive in February.

It comes as 81% (390 of 483) of training places in the North West have been filled in 2016. Overall 88% of training places in the UK were filled in 2016, with London oversubscribed. 

Rick Tranter, deputy lead training director for the North Cumbria GP Programme at Health Education England, said: ‘Training in west Cumbria offers a very different experience to a busy inner city, and we are delighted that local organisations have been really supportive in helping us to enable new trainees to commit to Cumbria when they already have rent or mortgage commitments to other parts of the country.’

David Rogers, medical director of NHS Cumbria CCG said: ‘This is a model we are keen to develop and offer to other trainee health professionals as a way of investing in a sustainable future workforce for our local community.

‘These are trainees that have already committed to housing contracts in other areas and any support we can offer with low cost accommodation means we can encourage trainees to discover the area and means they may return here in the future. These are potential GPs who we would otherwise have missed out on altogether.’

GP trainees in nearby East Cumbria and South Cumbria have been offered £20,000 ‘golden helloes’ to work in these areas. Last year, East Cumbria also launched a campaign to entice GP trainees to the region, by showing GPs consulting on lakeside jetties and among Neolithic stone circles.