A Brecon doctor has welcomed the continuation of a Welsh Government campaign to promote Wales as an excellent place for doctors – including GPs – to train, work and live.
Following the success of the drive, which resulted in 91% of Wales’ GP training places being filled in 2017, Health Secretary Vaughan Gething will today launch the next phase of the This is Wales: Train. Work. Live. campaign.
The international and UK-wide campaign is aimed at medical students, foundation doctors considering the next stage in their career, as well as trainees coming to the end of their training, to encourage them train, work and live in Wales.
It also targets 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.
Vaughan Gething will visit Winch Lane Surgery in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire today (Monday 16 October) and meet trainees who have chosen to start their GP training in Wales.
Pembrokeshire is one of the Welsh Government’s incentivised areas. In 2016 none of the GP places in Pembrokeshire were filled, but 100% of places were filled in 2017 following the launch of the Train. Work. Live campaign.
During the visit the Health Secretary will announce that last year’s GP training incentive scheme will be available again this year.
The scheme offers applicants £20,000 to train in areas of Wales which have had long term difficulty filling places, on the condition they remain in the area for one year of practice afterwards.
A second incentive of a one-off payment for all GP specialty programme trainees to cover the first sitting of their final exams will also continue.
This year, an incentive is also being offered to encourage psychiatrists to train in Wales. This consists of a one off-payment of up to £1,900 for psychiatry core trainees to cover the cost of one sitting of the MRCPsych membership exams.
The renewed national and international campaign features real medical professionals, who are either from outside Wales and have chosen to move here to train and live, or are returning to Wales following a period of working away.
The continuation of the campaign and financial incentives for medical professionals in Wales is welcome news to Brecon based GP Sam Lonsdale who moved to Wales after training stints in other parts of the UK, Africa and New Zealand.
She says: “I come from a non-medical family, but that has never got in the way of my ambition to become a doctor. In school I really enjoyed science and away from the classroom, I have always been fascinated by people. From quite a young age, I thought that becoming a doctor would be a good way to combine the things I’m most passionate about. I also love to travel, so medicine appealed to me on that level too.
“I went to medical school in Birmingham and loved it. I made friends for life and met my husband there too. Since graduating, I’ve moved around quite a lot to do various parts of my training, including periods of time in Zambia. We decided to move to Wales as we wanted a lifestyle similar to the one we had when living in New Zealand. We also wanted to find a great place to settle down and raise a family. We have found all this and more in Wales and we’re so happy here that moving anywhere else is completely out of the question.
“It’s impossible to say what I like most about Wales – I love it all! There is a huge diversity in terms of both the people and the landscape, and that creates an incredibly vibrant place to work and live in.
“I love the atmosphere that’s found in Cardiff; it’s great for family life because there’s always so much going on. For work, I’m currently based in Brecon, although through my GP training I have also been based in city Practices in South East Wales and it has been great to experience the variety that working in city and rural Practices bring. A big plus in my current placement is to enjoy a very scenic, relaxed commute to work – although in Wales, you are never far away from beautiful scenery. The training in Wales and the support I’ve received at my practices have both been exceptional.
“There are clear opportunities in Wales, which has allowed me to shape my career in ways that both interest and challenge me in equal measure. I also get plenty of time to spend with my family and enjoy life away from work, and I think that balance is everyone’s dream.”
Health Secretary Vaughan Gething said: “I’ve been absolutely delighted with the success of this campaign, but there’s more work to do to ensure all of our GP training places are filled for the future.
“Today I will be announcing the continuation of the incentives we have put in place, and I’m pleased we are extending the campaign to encourage psychiatrists to come to Wales. We know there is a real recruitment challenge for the psychiatry workforce across the UK.
“For those considering a career in Wales it’s important to highlight the benefits of working and living here, including an Education Contract for junior doctors, the first in the UK. It guarantees ring-fenced time for learning within the working week to ensure trainee doctors will have access to a wide range of educational opportunities to support their career development.
“I’m proud of the impact this campaign has had so far. It has shown that Wales is not only an excellent place to live but it’s also a great place to train and work. I am sure it will continue to go from strength to strength.”
Harriet Poynter, a trainee GP who has taken advantage of the Welsh Government’s incentive scheme and moved from London to Pembrokeshire after seeing the campaign, said: “I have lived in London all my life, so a move to Wales was a big step for me. It was always the plan to continue my training in London, but after a year in a long-distance relationship with a man based in Wales I started to weigh-up my options.
“The information provided through the Train. Work. Live. campaign definitely helped to sway my decision, as did the incentive to come to the area, which has contributed towards a deposit on a house – something I would have found extremely difficult to do in London.
“I am already seeing the benefits of a move to Pembrokeshire. The best thing about working in the hospital here is the effect the Welsh education contract is having on my training, allowing me to meet all my training needs. I’m also enjoying living on the coast, even the drive to work still amazes me. There is so much to do here and everyone is so friendly and welcoming.”