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Golden hello scheme attracts almost 30 GPs in one region in two years

Almost 30 GPs have been hired in Sunderland as part of a ‘golden hello’ scheme that offers £20,000 payments to attract new recruits to the region.

NHS Sunderland CCG set up the scheme two years ago amid a workforce crisis and a total of 29 GPs have signed up to the programme so far.

The scheme is aimed at encouraging GPs to stay and work in the region. To qualify for the bursary, GPs must commit to at least a three-year contract and the maximum pay out only applies to full-time working GPs.

Clare Nesbit, director lead for primary care at NHS Sunderland CCG, said: ‘This is a real success story for Sunderland, with 29 extra GPs already recruited to care for our patients. With a national shortage of qualified staff, it’s vital that we continue to recruit well-qualified GPs to ensure local services are in a strong position for the future.’

She added: ‘Sunderland is a fantastic place to live and work, and we want newly qualified GPs to see just how much our area has to offer and become part of our community.’

‘It’s one of a number of initiatives which can help attract new GPs to the city. The first 50 students are due to start the GP training scheme at Sunderland University’s new medical school in September, and many of them may choose to put down roots in the area,’ she said.

The golden hello initiative was due to be funded with £300,000 for 2018/19, but is currently forecast to spend £175,000, according to recent CCG board papers.

The scheme is set to be reviewed by Sunderland CCG at a later date, which has yet to be confirmed.

Last year, NHS England announced a new £10m fund to keep GPs from leaving the profession.

This followed other incentives, including Health Education England’s national golden hello scheme for GP trainees, launched in 2016.

Yet, Pulse recently revealed a number of GP trainees have been misled and left out of pocket after being told they were no longer eligible for the golden hello incentive.

Meanwhile the workforce crisis hit a new low, when it was reported that one in four GPs intend to leave general practice in the next five years.