TWO Carlisle GP surgeries are advertising for permanent doctors to help boost staffing levels.

It comes amid a national shortage of GPs, with Cumbria among the areas worst affected.

SSP Health, which runs surgeries across the north west, is looking for doctors willing to relocate to Carlisle to work at its Fusehill and Warwick Road medical practices.

Both currently rely heavily on locum GPs but want to employ more permanent staff.

The company says it is offering a mix of full time and part time posts, plus flexible working options.

Full time, salaried GPs can earn up to £95,000 a year.

An SSP Health spokesman said: “We are advertising for GPs at our Fusehill and Warwick Road practices in Carlisle, along with other surgeries across the north west.

“We work with a great team of advanced nurse practitioners, paramedics, nurses and pharmacists to meet the needs of our patients in Carlisle, but like many GP practices across the country we are keen to employ full time doctors as well as part time ‘portfolio’ GPs who prefer to work on a less than full time basis.

“We believe a mix of types of contract that our GPs work to gives flexibility for both the practice and its doctors. Regular GPs also become more familiar to patients, some of whom prefer to wait longer than usual to ensure they have an appointment with a doctor they have a relationship with."

A senior Cumbrian GP has previously warned that a national shortage of GPs is hitting Cumbria particularly hard due to its 'super-ageing' population.

Dr John Howarth, deputy chief executive of north Cumbria's hospitals and community health services, said a rise in demand for health services is also adding to the pressure.

But SSP hopes that offering flexible posts that can be tailored to individual GPs will help.

The spokesman added: “SSP Health has been advertising nationally for doctors to relocate to Carlisle and we are sure there will be keen interest in the practices - both of which are rated as good by the Care Quality Commission - due to their great teams, the enviable work/life balance our GPs receive, our policy of reducing the admin burden on our doctors so they can spend more time with patients and, of course, the attraction of living and working in such a beautiful part of the world.

“SSP Health has a pro-active recruitment policy and as we have 36 sites across the North West, GPs can easily move between our practices if necessary, so staffing problems rarely arise.”

Carlisle GP John Stevenson said long term, the country needs to train up more GPs to meet demand.

However he said we also need to do more to promote the area and its benefits.

"Recruitment issues are a recurring theme for Carlisle and Cumbria. Having said that, there are some tremendous opportunities for GPs because of the flexibility on offer," he said.

"It's a unique opportunity as you can effectively choose what you do and earn a good salary in a lovely location where living costs are lower than many other parts of the country.

"The challenge for us as a city and county is to get across the benefits."