Just over three-quarters of all GP vacancies in England and Wales were filled within six months, with an average of nearly seven applicants per post, according to a Department of Health survey published last week. But the survey of GP recruitment, retention and vacancies for the period April 2000-March 2001 found that nearly half of those recruiting found the process harder than five years ago. Practices serving urban and deprived areas reported the most difficulty finding both numbers and quality of applicants. All GPs joining the NHS are now entitled to£5,000, with an extra£5,000 for those working in deprived areas.

General Practitioner Recruitment, Retention and Vacancy Survey 2001. www. doh. gov. uk/stats/gprrvsurvey2001. htm