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Practice forced to offer £20,000 ‘golden hello’ to recruit partner

Exclusive The deepening GP recruitment crisis has forced one practice to offer a £20,000 bonus to attract potential candidates after struggling for a year to fill a vacant partner post, Pulse has learnt.

The Thorne Moor Medical Practice – which has a 100% QOF achievement score, and is situated in a ‘relatively leafy, affluent’ part of Doncaster, South Yorkshire – has had to take the step as a result of a recruitment crisis, which the LMC says is affecting one in ten practices in the region.

Elsewhere, one council is funding homebuilders to reduce the cost of houses for GPs in an attempt to attract practitioners to the area.

This comes at a time that the GPC has warned the gaps in general practice recruitment has reached ‘crisis point’.

Dr Joe Firth, partner at Thorne Moor Medical Practice, said he had struggled to get any quality applicants over the past year and potential candidates were unwilling to commit to the job.

He said: ‘Over the last three months we have been one GP down, struggling along, so we put out this advert. The main thing about this “golden hello” is to try and encourage people to actually commit to staying.’

‘Because we are a reasonably good practice we tend to get at least one or two applications, so we could at least fill a post, but most are not bothered about staying or committing, they just go. So what we are aiming at is that over the course of three years there would be a £20,000 bonus on top of their salary.’

He said the recruitment problems come despite the practice being second in the country for patient satisfaction in last year’s survey, achieving 100% QOF scores and being situated in a relatively affluent, leafy area.

Doncaster LMC medical secretary Dr Dean Eggit said the recruitment problem had now deepened to the point where practices were forced to resurrect the practice of offering ‘golden hello’ payments to get GPs to join them, a practice which he understood to be dormant since the 1990s.

He said: ‘Four [out of 44] practices in Doncaster have had long term recruitment and retention problems.’

‘My last understanding of the “golden hello” was that it was used in the early 1990s, when there was exactly the problem that we are starting to get to now. Patient demands and expectations cannot be met, so there are long working hours et cetera. There are not enough doctors nationally.’

Meanwhile, a housing developer in Carlisle has offered GPs a discount on home-buying in a bid to attract them to the areas in which it is currently building.

In an offer open until March next year, Story Homes is offering a £1,000 discount for every £50,000 spent by GPs on its developments in four areas of the town, in a joint scheme with the local authority.

The company explained that it has made the offer because families buying homes in their developments will want to know they can see a nearby GP.

A spokesperson said: ‘We are an aspirational company building aspirational homes for families and through our sustainable activities we aim to make the communities in which we build great places to live.’

Earlier this year Welsh LMC representatives also warned GPs may have to pay to recruit, saying the problem needed ‘tackling here and now with short-term solutions, either funding golden handcuffs or handshakes’.

It comes as Pulse recently revealed that a 15% drop in GP training applications is set to further exacerbate recruitment crisis.