GP practices struggling to recruit have successfully used a £10k per year ‘golden hello’ to attract four new GPs to their area.
The £250k scheme across 17 practices in Leicester has seen vacancies open for two years filled by new GPs after they were offered a financial incentive.
Under the scheme, run by the local authority with money from NHS Midlands and East, GPs are paid £10k per full time-equivalent year for two years, £20k in total, provided they do not leave the job.
NHS Leicester City CCG told Pulse that the money was allocated after they lobbied for help with severe recruitment problems in the city, where half of all GP partners are over the age of 50.
Dr Paul Danaher, a partner at the Groby Road Practice in Leicester, said they have been trying, unsuccessfully, to replace a retired senior partner for two years.
He said: ‘It is very difficult to recruit in Leicester. We are significantly down on the number of trainees in the city and there are very few people coming to Leicester. A lot of people leaving or going overseas and plenty retiring, because the workload is unsustainable. We are routinely working 12 and 13-hour days and sometimes you may get a cup of tea in that time and sometimes not.
‘We’ve gone through two lots of interviews without success. On the first occasion we recruited but then they pulled out. We have now been successful in recruiting a part-time GP because of the joint effort between the CCG and the council.’
However he added: ‘It is not a long term solution. That is going to have to come down to [actions from] the central Government, because we have a gap between what is available and what is expected.’
An NHS Leicester City CCG spokesperson said: ‘Recruiting new GPs to the city will mean better access to GP services for patients and a positive step in the right direction to better meeting the health needs of the local population. We are working closely with NHS England to support these 17 successful practices through the recruitment process.’
Stories of golden hello schemes propped up across England last year including a £10,000 scheme in Essex funded by Health Education England and self-funding GP practice incentives such as a £20,000 scheme in Doncaster.
NHS England’s 10-point plan to solve the GP workforce crisis included golden handshakes for new GPs and those returning to practise, however recently the body’s own head of primary care commissioning Dr David Geddes said these schemes ‘don’t work’.