Campaign to recruit more doctors in the North East

Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital in Cramlington.
Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital in Cramlington.

‘It’s canny up north’ is a key slogan being used as part of a campaign to recruit more doctors in the North East.

At last Thursday’s meeting of Northumberland County Council’s health and wellbeing board, Claire Riley, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust’s director of communications and corporate affairs, gave a presentation on the Find Your Place campaign.

A partnership between the 12 provider organisations in the North East and North Cumbria, it aims to attract doctors through highlighting both the career benefits and the lifestyle advantages of moving to the region.

Ms Riley said: “We are competing against all of the other areas of the UK and potentially other areas for junior doctors and consultants to come to work and live here.

“While we are one of the best places to be trained – and that’s the GMC (General Medical Council) saying that, not us – people don’t necessarily want to come to the North East to do their training. It’s a constant slog.”

Given this, a big part of the campaign – which uses social media as one its main tools and the hashtag #itscannyupnorth – is about the quality of living in the region with information about nightlife, culture, heritage and the outdoors.

And since its launch, Find Your Place has had an impact, with a nine per cent increase in fill rates for vacant doctor posts between 2015-16 and 2017-18, as well as increasing social-media engagement.

The increase in fill rates is significant because, for example, in its first year (2015-16), a campaign budget of £50,000 resulted in savings of £800,000 in locum costs, as even a relatively small increase in recruitment numbers can have a big impact on the need for locums.

Dr David Shovlin, clinical director of primary care for NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said he was ‘really interested to talk about how we can involve primary care in this’.

This is because the recruitment of GPs is also a concern and the CCG recently announced a major two-year programme of work, which aims to ensure primary care remains ‘sustainable and vibrant’.

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service