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GPs offered ‘golden hello’ of up to £20,000 to work in Sunderland

Family doctors in Sunderland are being encouraged with financial incentives
Family doctors in Sunderland are being encouraged with financial incentives
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More than £300,000 was paid to GPs in Sunderland last year as part of a ‘Golden Hello’ scheme.

The cash, part of an initiative intended to boost the number of family doctors in the city, was handed out to 19 recruits in 2017/18.

Dr Ian Pattison, NHS Sunderland CCG chairman.

Dr Ian Pattison, NHS Sunderland CCG chairman.

The money was available to medics who agreed to take up a post for a minimum of three years in a Sunderland practice.

The incentive was taken up by 14 new GPs, as well as helping keep a further five in the city.

Speaking at Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) Primary Care Commissioning Committee, Dr Ian Pattison, a member of the CCG’s governing body, said: “The longer a GP works in an area, the more likely they are to stay in that area.

“That’s the problem with ‘Golden Hellos’. You don’t know how successful it is going to be, it’s a blind measure.”

He added: “I hope this will attract some GPs who will hang around for three years, but recruitment is still hard and retention is harder, especially when so many of them live up in Newcastle.”

According to a report prepared for the panel, the initiative spent £302,214 from a £400,000 budget, with each recruit eligible to receive up to £20,000.

Feedback painted a positive picture of the scheme, with most practices indicating it had helped attract more staff.

However, some also felt the three year attachment was too long.

Others thought the initiative could have been better advertised.

Dr Pattison added he hoped the announcement of a new medical school for Sunderland University would make keeping doctors in the city easier.

James Harrison

James Harrison , Local Democracy Reporting Service