Recruitment drive launches today in bid to boost Suffolk’s GP numbers

A recruitment drive to attract more GPs in Suffolk is launched today

A recruitment drive to attract more GPs in Suffolk is launched today - Credit: Getty Images/Wavebreak Media

A drive to boost Suffolk’s dwindling number of family doctors is being launched by health commissioners today – with hospital placements and overseas work among the opportunities being offered to newly-qualified practitioners.

Health bosses hope the nationwide recruitment campaign for the Suffolk GP Fellowship scheme, which also gives doctors a 12-month contract with an option to continue permanently, will help entice GPs to the county to work.

The shortage of GPs has been regularly raised in recent years in Suffolk and this new initiative, published in trade magazine Pulse today, has come following months of discussions.

Dr John Cannon, the scheme’s clinical co-ordinator who has 34 years’ experience as a GP, said: “It is a pleasure and a privilege to be part of people’s lives as a GP. You are looking after generations within communities in which you become a trusted and valued integral part.

“We do have a real recruitment issue in Suffolk, which this scheme aims to address.

“The GP Fellowship Scheme would be very interesting to those who want to enhance their careers and their life-long learning opportunities.

“You would spend time in your practice, and undertake a clinical placement at the hospital in a specialism you want, such as cardiology, accident and emergency or gastroenterology.”

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The national problem has been caused by many factors, the most pressing of which appears to be a lack of young trainees coming through to replace retiring family doctors, with the majority of students opting to go into hospital work.

The EADT reported last month that Combs Ford Surgery in Stowmarket was to soon operate with just two GPs, supported by other clinical staff, for 10,000 patients – despite advertising the positions, there were no applications.

Dr Cannon believes the new scheme is an innovative approach to tackling the shortage and with the offer of overseas placements in New Zealand and Africa for up to a year, is offering young doctors a unique opportunity.

One of the organisations behind the Fellowship Scheme is the Suffolk GP Federation, which has recently been working with tourism bosses to market Suffolk as both a place to live and work.

Dr Paul Driscoll, the chairman of the Suffolk GP Federation, said: “By bringing together all of our collective needs to attract more clinicians to the county, we have come up with a workable idea.

“Surgeries already have an impressive skill mix.

“The nurse practitioners, nursing assistants and GPs work together to support people who come to them for help.

“Equally, continued professional development in any walk of life sees benefits to both the person learning and the organisation for which they work.

“Combining the two in the GP Fellowship Scheme gives broader options to candidates, making Suffolk more attractive.”

The scheme itself is the brainchild of Dr Andrew Yager, GP and governing body member at West Suffolk CCG, and the Suffolk GP Federation.

It is also being supported by Ipswich and West Suffolk hospitals and University Campus Suffolk.

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