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Island do it! Health chiefs are offering GPs £150,000 to work in one of Scotland’s most idyllic locations, famous for its white beaches and breathtaking scenery

Health chiefs are trying to lure GPs to work in one of Scotland’s most idyllic spots – with the promise of a £150,000 salary.

In a new attempt to solve a recruitment crisis in the remote Outer Hebrides, GPs will be offered a relocation package and a £10,000 golden welcome bonus in addition to their 41-day annual leave.

NHS Western Isles bosses want to lure five new GPs to Uist and Benbecula with the tempting deal, aimed at doctors who want to ‘escape the rat race and practice medicine in an idyllic setting’.

Some 50 miles away and a two-hour ferry ride from mainland Scotland, the Outer Hebrides are famous for their white beaches and breathtaking scenery.

The post is based in a practice in Benbecula, but GPs are also expected to work in the local 17-bed community hospital.

NHS Western Isles bosses want to lure five new GPs to Uist (pictured) and Benbecula with the tempting deal, aimed at doctors who want to ‘escape the rat race and practice medicine in an idyllic setting’

According to the lucrative offer, the salary includes an ‘increased rate’ of 40 percent on top of the normal rate pay range from £69,993 to £104,469 for salaried Scottish GPs.

This means the new GPs could be paid up to around £147,500 per year.

Health chiefs also offer an annual ‘far island allowance’ of £1,279 per year, and up to £8,000 towards moving costs.

The ad reads: ‘From the fishing port of Lochmaddy in the north; to the glittering beaches of Lochboisdale in the south, the islands of Uist and Benbecula offer a warm welcome and are buzzing with life, activity and culture.

More than 7,000 general practitioners will be needed in the next twelve years

There were 27,487 fully qualified, full-time GPs working in England in December, an average of one GP for every 2,078 patients.

However, a ratio of 1,800 patients per GP is generally recognized by industry organizations as the ‘safe limit’.

As things stand, a further 4,238 GPs would need to be recruited to meet this ratio, MailOnline’s analysis suggests.

However, thanks to ONS projects, an additional 6.6 million people will live in Britain from 2036.

Assuming this growth continued in line with current demographic trends, the population of England would reach 62.2 million.

This figure would mean 34,536 GPs working in the NHS to meet the ratio of one per 1,800 patients, meaning a further 7,076 GP posts would be needed over the next twelve years.

‘It is in this unique, safe and idyllic location that a rare and exciting opportunity has arisen for at least five GPs to form a new team as part of a new medical practice.

“We are ready and excited to welcome GPs with a sense of adventure and a passion for remote and rural medicine, to escape the rat race and embrace a healthier work-life balance.”

It added that the island is ‘littered with lakes and lochans, endless sea and spectacular seascapes and scenery’.

Benbecula Medical Practice, which treats more than 2,000 patients, has had ‘ongoing challenges’ recruiting GPs.

In October the health board announced it would take over the running of the practice from April this year after a GP partner retired.

The other two partners plan to continue working in the practice, but as employees.

The recruitment problems facing the health board have been blamed on rising house prices, fueled by a wave of properties being converted into second homes and wealthy retirees moving into the area.

General practitioners also previously complained about the operations are shabby and cramped.

NHS Western Isles medical director Dr Frank McAuley said they are offering at least five GPs a chance to ‘escape the rat race’.

He added: ‘These roles will appeal to experienced GPs, as well as doctors earlier in their careers looking for the challenge of broadening their clinical skills and providing holistic care in a remote but supported environment.

‘These are roles that offer excellent opportunities for skills and confidence development, with the remote island location offering an unrivaled additional sense of responsibility and reward.’

Meanwhile, Gordon Jamieson, chief executive of NHS Western Isles, told BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland: ‘It has to be a certain type of person who wants that job and that responsibility.’

He acknowledged that NHS Western Isles had faced a “wide range of challenges” in recruiting in rural areas.

But according to him, the salary is an incentive to ‘live, work and stay here’.

Benbecula Medical Practice, which treats more than 2,000 patients, has had 'ongoing challenges' recruiting GPs.  In October the health board announced it would take over the running of the practice from April this year after a GP partner retired.  In the photo the island of Benbecula

Benbecula Medical Practice, which treats more than 2,000 patients, has had “ongoing challenges” in recruiting GPs. In October the health board announced it would take over the running of the practice from April this year after a GP partner retired. In the photo the island of Benbecula

He added: ‘We want a sustainable service and we want people to live in the community for a long time.’

GPs have long complained of being overwhelmed by the pressures of a growing and aging population and a lack of government funding.

GPs have reported having to cram up to 90 appointments a day, a situation comparable to that of an assembly line.

According to recommendations from the BMA and the European Union of General Practitioners, GPs in Britain should now make no more than 25 appointments per day to ensure ‘safe care’.

Patient satisfaction has also fallen to its lowest level in forty years.

According to the GP Patient Survey 2023, a survey of 759,000 Britons, only seven in ten (71.3 percent) described their overall experience of their GP practice as ‘good’. Satisfaction has fallen to an all-time low.

Less than half of patients (49.8 percent) also indicate that they can easily reach the GP practice by telephone, compared to 52.7 percent in 2022 and 80.8 percent in 2012.