[A]n innovative scheme to encourage GPs to do part of their training in West Cumbria is being supported by local organisations and firms.
NHS organisations in Cumbria have offered six month placements for trainee GPs from the London GP training schemes which are oversubscribed. There is significant interest in this option from the London trainees.
These are trainees who have already committed to housing in London so the NHS Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group and local GP practices have been asking for help to provide accommodation which will be affordable to them on top of their existing commitments. Allerdale Borough Council has already come forward to help.
It is hoped that once they have spent several months specialising in remote and rural General Practice that they may want to return to the area and work in future. It also offers doctors who want to work in rural areas the chance to develop those skills they would be less likely to see or use in a busy urban practice.
Allerdale Borough Council with Impact Housing and a number of local businesses and GP Practices have offered practical support and funding, but more help is needed for a longer term solution.
One property has been identified, but help is needed furnishing it in time for the trainees to arrive in February.
David Rogers, Medical Director of NHS Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group said: “We are determined to encourage more GPs and other health staff to live and work in Cumbria. We have secured the NHS funding to provide unique training experiences which an inner city GP placement cannot deliver. This is a model we are keen to develop and offer to other trainee health professionals as a way of investing in a sustainable future workforce for our local community.
“These are trainees that have already committed to housing contracts in other areas and any support we can offer with low cost accommodation means we can encourage trainees to discover the area and means they may return here in the future. These are potential GPs who we would otherwise have missed out on altogether.”
Councillor Carni McCarron-Holmes, Allerdale Borough Council’s Executive member with responsibility for housing and health, added: “Anything that brings more high quality health professionals to West Cumbria is to be welcomed, which is why the Council is committed to this project. We’ve arranged to cover the rent, and funded the renovation of the property, which also means another home has been brought back in to use in Workington. We hope this proves to be a hugely successful initiative for the area.”
Rick Tranter, Health Education England’s Deputy Lead Training Director for the North Cumbria GP Programme said: “Training in West Cumbria offers a very different experience to a busy inner city, and we are delighted that local organisations have been really supportive in helping us to enable new trainees to commit to Cumbria when they already have rent or mortgage commitments to other parts of the country.”
There is a national shortage of GPs, but in Copeland vacancy rates run at more than 23% and some patients currently struggle to get appointments.
If the scheme works well it could be extended to other allied health professionals in future encouraging more to choose West Cumbria as a place to live and work.
Anyone who could offer funding or support in kind is asked to contact Mel Bradley or Kayleigh Amor on 01900 705720 or 01900 705718.