Health chiefs bid to attract new GPs to Sunderland

Dr Ian Pattison with Dr Sonali Dutta.
Dr Ian Pattison with Dr Sonali Dutta.
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NHS Sunderland Commissioning Group Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is making a big investment to attract new GPs to the city over the next five years.

The CCG, along with Sunderland GP Alliance, will fund the posts to encourage GPs from across the UK to work in the city. Initially, ten GPs will take part in the two year GP career start programme, with five further GPs recruited in each of the following five years.

General Practice is often the first point of contact for local people with 3000 consultations a day in Sunderland, yet a recent survey by Pulse magazine revealed that around 12% of all GP posts in the UK are vacant, the highest proportion ever recorded.

Dr Sonali Dutta was set to join a GP practice outside of the city before she heard about the GP career start programme. She said: “I completed my studies in Newcastle and was set to accept a position there before I heard about the GP career start programme in Sunderland.

“The education and professional development opportunities the scheme offered were not available at that time elsewhere so it was a huge part of my decision to work in Sunderland.

“At the moment I spend four days at the Southlands Medical Group in Sunderland and half a day working at the hospital.”

NHS Sunderland CCG’s chair, Dr Ian Pattison said: “We anticipate high levels of GP retirement in the next few years and there is a shortage nationally of new GPs, that’s why our practices have been so willing to support the scheme and we are delighted to have Dr Dutta and the other new recruits in Sunderland..

“Historically, in Sunderland it has been challenging to recruit GPs but this scheme, and the tailored support it offers, has already proved a huge success.

“Sunderland has a lot to offer and it is important that we continue to attract highly qualified GPs to our area, that’s what this plan is all about.

Each of the GPs will be based at one of Sunderland’s GP practices.

He added: “After completing the first two years of these posts, hosted by individual practices, we hope that the GPs will be ready to join to stay in Sunderland. The most recent national survey again showed higher than average satisfaction with GPs on all key indicators in Sunderland but recruitment is key so we can improve access to appointments.”

GPs employed by the ‘career start’ programme will also receive mentoring on their clinical and personal development and an opportunity to take part in educational activities.