'Golden hello' for doctors considered

DOCTORS could be offered 'golden hello' payments for taking up posts as part of the strategy to combat the GP and consultant shortage across the region, it has emerged.

DOCTORS could be offered 'golden hello' payments for taking up posts as part of the strategy to combat the GP and consultant shortage across the region, it has emerged.

The idea, which could see doctors paid up to £12,000 if they take on a GP post, is one of a number of proposals being considered to solve the problem.

The dilemma was discussed at a meeting of the Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire Strategic Health Authority (SHA), held in Ipswich.

Members of the board heard that, by March 2004, the region is expected to employ 1,422 consultants and 1,339 GP's.

David Wherret, director of workforce development for the SHA, told the meeting that there are a number of ideas being developed nationally which could be used in this region to increase supply of both GP's and Consultants.

Included in those is the 'golden hello' proposal, which may be offered to doctors who meet strict eligibility guidelines.

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A payment of £5,000 could be offered, increasing to £12,000 for those taking jobs in specific 'under doctored' areas, as determined by the Department of Health.

Recruiting staff from overseas is also being examined, and the meeting heard that there will be 14 new international staff – seven doctors and seven consultants - in the region this year, although there is potential for far more in the future.

Mr Wherret said: "We are expecting to meet national targets, but we still have to consider future growth of the workforce.

"Whilst there has been quite significant activity in the nursing workforce, very little has been going on in the consultant and GP workforce – but things are changing.

"There are some steps that still need to be taken to ensure we deliver the future medical workforce."

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