GP trainees in Wales are set to have the fees for their final exam covered, with those in areas suffering recruitment difficulties also receiving a £20,000 golden hello dependent on them staying in Wales for their first year of practise.
The incentives, which include a £2,000 final exam bursary, will come into force from August next year, the Welsh Government has announced.
The Wales Deanery, alongside the Welsh Government, Welsh health boards and trusts have also announced a new education contract for Welsh junior doctors. This contract is the first of its kind in the UK and guarantees learning time within the working week for trainee doctors.
This is part of a wider campaign, launched by First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, to encourage medical students and trainees to live and work in Wales – including attracting doctors from elsewhere in the UK.
GPC Wales chair Dr Charlotte Jones said they ‘support’ the scheme to solve the current recruitment and retention problems, ‘particularly the incentive-based schemes which we’ve been calling for, for a number of years’.
‘The education contract that provides protected time for training is also a welcome step forward in making the Wales offer more attractive for junior doctors,’ she added.
But she warned that the campaign ‘isn’t a standalone solution’ to the Welsh GP recruitment crisis.
She said: ‘There are areas identified in our urgent prescription for general practice solution paper which we have recently put to Welsh Government that must be addressed in order to turn general practice around and provide a solid offer for GPs who may be starting out in, or returning to, the profession.’
The scheme comes as a recent GPC Wales survey found that eight in ten Welsh GPs are concerned about the viability of their practice, often due to recruitment problems, and more than a quarter of GPs said they were considering a career change due to unsustainable workload pressure.
Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones said he wants ‘doctors across the whole of the UK and beyond to know that Wales is a fantastic place to train, work and live’, with the launch of this campaign going ‘a long way in getting that message heard loud and clear’.
‘Every day, our primary care centres deliver a fantastic service to the people of Wales, but we know that there are very real challenges around the recruitment and retention of GPs. This is not unique to Wales, but an issue across the whole of the UK.
‘It’s important we act, and act fast to ensure that our health service is sustainable in the long term.’
He further highlighted that Wales ‘came top of the four nations in the UK in terms of overall satisfaction with trainee GPs’ in the GMC’s latest trainee survey.
As previously reported by Pulse, Wales is targeting medical students from across the UK to come and work in Wales. The campaign will include RCGP ‘champions’ for general practice reaching out to medical students.