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Golden hello schemes set for expansion after ‘attracting GPs to difficult areas’

Exclusive A scheme to offer a £20,000 ‘golden handshake’ to GP trainees taking up positions in some rural, remote or deprived areas is set to expand across the UK next year after attracting GPs to difficult areas.

In England, there are plans to increase the number of posts offered under the Targeted Enhanced Recruitment Scheme, after 86% of the 122 places which came with the ‘salary supplement’ were filled in 2016.

In Scotland the uptake was only 40.5% for the 37 places offered in 2016, but NHS Education for Scotland said it would still expand the number of places with the attached bursary to between 60 and 70 in 2017. It said some of the places that were filled had been vacant for years.

Meanwhile, the Wales Deanery said its £20,000 golden hello scheme will launch in 2017 with 38 available places.

The figures come as the BMA warned last week that a third of GP partners now struggle to recruit GPs for 12 months amid the ongoing workforce crisis.

And although the uptake was overall positive in England some areas still struggled to recruit, with just 11 out of 21 (52%) of of the places on the golden hello scheme accepted in Northern Lincolnshire. In the West Lakes, eight of 12 positions offered this year were filled, the data obtained by Pulse showed.

But Health Education England (HEE) said they were pleased so far with the take up of the scheme, and would therefore expand it next year.

The golden hello scheme, which formed part of NHS England and HEE’s ten-point plan for the GP workforce, was launched in early 2016 across some of the most under-recruited areas.

A spokesperson said: ‘It is playing an important role in helping to boost recruitment in hard to recruit to areas.

‘There is still more to do to help attract trainees to these areas and we will be looking to expand the scheme further in 2017.’

Traditionally these places have been less popular with GP trainees because of their geographical location – either being very deprived or rural areas – but there is a belief that trainees tend to stay after their training post has ended because they have discovered the areas ‘hidden attractions’.

Deputy GPC negotiator Dr Richard Vautrey welcomed the additional places and said it was important to try any possible strategy to address the ‘real crisis situations in general practice up and down the country’.

He said: ‘If the evaluation from earlier schemes has shown even a hint of positivity then it’s worth expanding that.’

He also said GPs taking on such roles would frequently end up settling in the area.

He said: ‘If you can get beyond your misconceptions about a particular area and get to know the people and the community, it can be a way to engage people to stay.’

Golden handshake uptake across England and Scotland

  Places available 2016 Places filled




HE Wessex (Isle of Wight)



HE North West (Blackpool)



HE North East (East Cumbria)



HE East Midlands (Lincolnshire)



HE North West (South Cumbria)



HE North East (West Lakes)



HE Yorkshire and the Humber (Northern Lincolnshire)






Source: HEE and NHS Education for Scotland


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