GPs in Birmingham - one of the areas worst affected by the H1N1 swine flu pandemic - will receive bonuses for meeting swine flu vaccination targets, reports claim.

Healthcare managers in the Midlands have offered the incentives over fears that a winter outbreak of swine flu could cripple the region and kill large numbers of people.

The bonuses, reported to be worth up to 50 per cent on top of the vaccination fee agreed between doctors and the NHS, are coupled with financial penalties for practices forced to suspend regular work because of the virus.

A spokesman for Heart of Birmingham PCT said: “In recognition of the additional workload, the PCT will pay a high-coverage bonus,” adding this would be worth an extra 50 per cent of the original fee for those GPs achieving more than a 90 per cent coverage rate.

Dr Robert Morley, a Birmingham local medical committees representative and GP in the city, praised the initiative and asked practices to prepare for the programme.

“We are asking every practice to give us information about the burden of work so that we can arrange payment if necessary,” he said.