Campaigning by professional organisations for more to be done to improve GP and nurse recruitment and retention paid off this week, when health secretary Alan Milburn announced millions of pounds in 'golden hellos'.

Mr Milburn said£56m a year would be spent on recruiting and retaining doctors, nurses and therapists, with every new GP who joins the NHS getting£5,000, and£1,000 for nurses, midwives and therapists who return to the NHS.

Newly qualified GPs will be paid up to£5,000 extra if they take jobs in deprived areas, while£10,000 will go to those delaying their retirement from 60 to 65.

Mr Milburn's announcements came just before a joint response to the NHS plan from GP organisations which claims the absence of commitment to reduce list sizes and to ensure longer consultations means the plan 'cannot be delivered'.

The report from the British Medical Association GPs' committee, the NHS Alliance and the Royal College of General Practitioners, also attacks the move to personal medical services contracts before evaluation as 'premature'.