Will £20,000 ‘golden hello’ tempt GPs to Galloway?

MSP Finlay Carson meets with Wigtownshire GPs
MSP Finlay Carson meets with Wigtownshire GPs

Galloway MSP Finlay Carson and South Scotland MSP and Shadow Health Minister Colin Smyth have welcomed have welcomed the announcement by the Scottish Government that they will offer incentives to GP Trainees who commit to working in areas that have proven difficult to recruit to, including Galloway.

The Scottish Targeted Bursary Scheme will offer a one off bursary of £20,000 to GP Trainees who sign up to work in areas where posts have been difficult to fill.

Local GP Practices find it extremely difficult to fill these roles because of their geographical location. Often, trainees who take up placements in these areas stay on after their training and it is hoped that this scheme will act as an incentive for trainees to do so.

Mr Carson is well aware of the situation of GP Shortages across his constituency and met recently with a group of GPs in Stranraer. At that meeting, the idea of a ‘golden hello’ or similar incentives were discussed, however it was felt that this wouldn’t be enough. A further suggestion included the running of a targeted campaign to headhunt the type of Doctor who would be willing to relocate to Dumfries and Galloway. Such efforts would require financial support from the local Health Board and the Scottish Government to assist with the associated costs of running these campaigns and / or offering incentives.

Following his discussion with Wigtownshire Doctors, Mr Carson requested a meeting with Jeff Ace (Chief Executive, NHS Dumfries and Galloway), Phil Jones (Chair, Chair, D&G Health Board) and Dr Angus Cameron (Medical Director, NHS Dumfries and Galloway). He is due to meet with Dr Cameron later this month.

The MSP also submitted a Parliamentary Question asking the Scottish Government what action it was taking to increase the number of GPs in rural areas, including the incentives that are made available to rural practices. Mr Carson is still waiting on a response from the Scottish Government.

Finlay Carson said: “I welcome the announcement of a new Bursary Scheme for GP Trainees. Action is needed to avert a real crisis in terms of GP shortages and I hope that this scheme will go some way to encouraging trainees to consider applying to complete their training in Galloway and West Dumfries. However, we need GPs for the long term and more needs to be done to encourage GPs to practice in rural areas for at least five years.

“As those of us who live here know, it is a beautiful part of Scotland with lots of hidden gems and a great place to raise children. I am confident that the trainees who do apply to come here will realise Galloway and West Dumfries’ potential.

“I submitted a Parliamentary Question in July on this very issue and, to date, I am still waiting on a response. I hope when I get that response that this scheme is only one of the ways that the Scottish Government will try to recruit GPs to our local area.

“The seriousness of this crisis cannot be underplayed – real action is needed now”.