A major new campaign to promote Wales as an excellent place for doctors, including GPs, and their families, to train, work and live has been launched by First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones.
The Welsh Government made a clear commitment in its Programme for Government to continue to invest in primary care and to take action to attract and train more GPs, nurses and other health professionals to Wales.
The new national and international campaign will compliment work already being undertaken by health boards to recruit staff. It will support GPs who express an interest in working in Wales, including relocating with their families, while providing helpful information on what they can expect when coming to the country.
The campaign will be aimed at medical students yet to choose a specialty as well as trainees coming to the end of their training, to encourage them to stay to live and work in Wales. It will also appeal to recently qualified GPs, those in the early stages of their career and experienced GPs who may wish to work differently, or return to the workforce in Wales.
To support the launch of the campaign a new and easily accessible source of information on general practice in Wales is being launched with telephone and online support for those who express an interest in returning to practice in Wales. This single point of contact will also provide recruitment assistance directly to practices.
Training as a GP in areas which have had long term difficulty filling places is also going to be encouraged through the introduction of an incentive scheme. This bonded scheme will see trainees receive a total of £20,000 on the understanding they remain in the area in which they took a training placement whilst they train and for one year of practice afterwards.
A second incentive of a one-off payment of £2,000 to be paid to all GP specialty training programme trainees to help cover their final exams following study in Wales is also being introduced. Incentives will be in place in time for the August 2017 intake.
The Wales Deanery, alongside the Welsh Government, Welsh health boards and trusts also today announced a new Education Contract for junior doctors in Wales. The contract, a UK first, guarantees ring-fenced time for learning written into their working week to ensure all trainee doctors in Wales will have access to a wide range of educational opportunities to support their career development.
First Minister Carwyn Jones said: “Every day, our primary care centres deliver a fantastic service to the people of Wales, but we know that there are very real challenges around the recruitment and retention of GPs. This is not unique to Wales, but an issue across the whole of the UK.
“It’s important we act, and act fast to ensure that our health service is sustainable in the long term.
“Today’s campaign shows that Wales is not only an excellent place to live – our vibrant cities and towns, epic beaches, and stunning mountains speak for themselves – but it’s also a great place to train and work.
“In the 2016 GMC Trainee Survey we came top of the four nations in the UK in terms of overall satisfaction with trainee GPs ranking their experiences in terms of satisfaction, experience, induction and clinical supervision.
“I want doctors across the whole of the UK and beyond to know that Wales is a fantastic place to train, work and live. Today’s campaign goes a long way in getting that message heard loud and clear.”
Health Secretary Vaughan Gething said: “Today’s campaign launch is the result of hard work between us; GPC Wales; the Royal College of GPs and the Wales Deanery. I’m extremely proud of what we have achieved.
“The new campaign is further reaching than anything we have done before and will support the good work already being undertaken by our health boards to recruit staff. It is more distinctive in setting out what Wales as a country has on offer for people who train here and work here.
“The incentives around training and our unique education contract that provides protected time for training announced today will also be a source of encouragement for people to come to Wales to be GPs.
“Success will be measured in a number of ways, but ultimately we expect to see an increase in applications for training places with the result of a higher fill rate for places we currently fund.
“Train, work, live is the campaign’s slogan – let’s get that message out there to ensure the primary care sector in Wales has a positive future.”