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GP trainees provided with accommodation to work in rural settings

Trainee GPs have taken up the opportunity to escape to the country thanks to a Cumbrian collaboration providing accommodation for those wanting to experience training in a rural setting.

A house in Workington, West Cumbria was renovated as part of a joint project between Allerdale Borough Council, charitable housing association Impact Housing and NHS North Cumbria CCG tp provide accommodation for GPs training in the area.

Local health leaders hope it will encourage more GPs to return full time.

In particular it is an opportunity for trainees to experience some of the responsibility and rewards that come from working in a more isolated setting, as well as understanding the challenges these areas face.

Pulse reported last year that local practices and education bosses were looking to incentivise applicants on oversubscribed London training schemes to take up six month posts in the region by offering subsidised rent and accomodation.

Dr Hannah Lowi Jones was one of the first participants, she said: ‘I really enjoyed my time in West Cumbria and would come again if I had the chance.’

‘Due to the difficulties with accessing secondary care, you are supported by the practice and community to manage more complex conditions within primary care, which has been an excellent learning experience.

‘This has also helped me to think more flexibly around how to provide and access care’.

Trainees also have chances to try out entirely new roles, such as time with mountain rescue, as well as within drug and alcohol clinics or palliative care.

Carni McCarron-Holmes, Allerdale Borough Council’s executive member for housing, health and wellbeing, said the council was delighted with the success of the scheme so far.

She added: ‘I hope to see many more trainees take up the opportunity and potentially return to Cumbria full time in the future.”

Cumbria is one of the regions that has traditionally struggled to recruit GPs and is part of Health Education England’s Targeted Enhanced Recruitment scheme offering a taxable £20,000 salary supplement to doctors willing to train as GPs locally.

Health education leaders in the region also launched a poster campaign with pictures of consultations taking part in a rural setting in a bid to attract GPs.