Doctors offered £20k ‘golden hellos’ to work in remote areas

Junior doctors are being offered money to become rural GPs in remote areas of Scotland. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Junior doctors are being offered money to become rural GPs in remote areas of Scotland. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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Junior doctors are being offered “golden hellos” of up to £20,000 to work as GPs in remote areas of Scotland.

A total of 100 GP posts have been advertised, including 37 in “hard-to-fill locations” around the country.

The new places bring the total number of GP specialist training posts advertised this year to 439, following a recruitment round earlier in the year.

Health secretary Shona Robison said: “We know there are some parts of the country that have challenges recruiting – mainly because of their geographical location.

“So, we’re offering a financial incentive with certain posts to fill these vital training places.

“We are also investing in the future of the profession – developing new ways of working with multi-disciplinary teams and refocusing the role of the GP as the expert medical generalist within our community health service.

“We’ve also abolished the bureaucratic system of GP payments, QOF, and are working on a new Scottish GP contract to support our wider efforts to make primary care services fit for the future.”

Scotland’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Gregor Smith, a former GP, said: “Working in general practice can give you a wide and varied career – one in which every day is different and you never know what will come through the door next.

“General practice, particularly, is unique in being able to build that special relationship with patients which can potentially span decades and generations.

Dr Miles Mack, chair of the Royal College of GPs Scotland, said: “It is through increasing the size of the GP workforce that we can meet the needs of patients across Scotland.”

Labour health spokesman Anas Sarwar said the move came after “years of cuts” to GP services under the SNP.

“The sector is facing a demographic time bomb and filling posts in rural Scotland is difficult,” he said.

“If the SNP had taken the role of family doctors seriously, funded general practice properly and not cut medical student numbers then this crisis could have been avoided. Now that they have woken up to the GP crisis, the SNP should give GPs the resources and support they need to help current and future doctors provide the service the public need.

“I want to see Shona Robison roll out plans for a minor ailments service in Scotland’s pharmacies to start taking the pressure off of GPs and deliver better, faster care for patients.”

Liberal Democrat health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton welcomed the scheme but warned it would not be a “silver bullet” to the issues facing GPs services.

He added: “Even if the bursaries announced today are all taken up, we will still not have closed the gap between the number of GP training places available and the number of doctors choosing to go into primary care.”