Wales politics

Offer new doctors 'golden hellos', says Plaid Cymru

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Media captionThere are around 400 vacancies for GPs across Wales

Newly-qualified doctors should be offered "golden hellos" to entice them to work in general practice in Wales, Plaid Cymru has said.

The party's health spokeswoman Elin Jones said new doctors could have student debts paid off in exchange for training and working in areas with GP shortages for a set period of time.

There are currently around 400 vacancies for GPs across Wales.

But Health Minister Mark Drakeford said he was "not attracted" to the idea.

Ms Jones told BBC Sunday Politics Wales: "We have a problem looming and in some areas it's existing already, and we need to make sure that we have a supply of new GPs into the system.

"To do that I think we have to consider financially incentivising GPs into training and into practices."

'Temporary boost'

Neil James, a family doctor in New Tredegar, near Caerphilly, said he knew of a "couple" of practices in the Gwent valleys that were short of GPs.

"They've had a few doctors leave and, with no-one to fill their shoes, they are having great difficulties as a practice to maintain a service," he said.

"That's a problem that I fear that we may face increasingly, particularly in areas of deprivation."

Dr Charlotte Jones, chair of the General Practitioners Committee in Wales, said her organisation had already offered the Welsh government a "range of solutions" including financial incentives for new doctors and "golden handcuffs" to retain GPs who were thinking of retiring.

But Mr Drakeford told the programme he was not keen on "golden hellos".

"We've seen it tried elsewhere - you can sometimes get a temporary boost of people coming across the border but they leave as soon as the incentive runs out," he said.

On Friday, the man in charge of doctor training in Wales suggested changing the name of some of Wales' health boards might help solve a shortage of junior medics.

Sunday Politics Wales can be seen on BBC One Wales at 12:00 GMT on Sunday, 1 February.

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