HEALTH bosses are mounting a campaign to entice Dutch, Scandinavian and German doctors to work in the region.

Sunderland, which is reputed to have fewer GPs per head of the population than any other part of the UK, has launched an advertising drive in Europe.

Bosses at the City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Trust - which has below average staffing levels - are also advertising in Europe for senior hospital doctors.

Two years ago, the trust brought in 55 South African nurses.

Officials are looking to recruit up to 30 more GPs to ease pressure on family doctors.

At the same time, health bosses on Tyneside say they have identified about 30 refugee doctors, from Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan, who would like to work in the region's health service.

Dr Colin Wain, director of primary care development at Sunderland Health Authority, said: "We have doctors with list sizes of about 2,200 and we want to get them down to about 1,800, which is closer to the national average.

"Our GPs work very hard because we have high rates of heart disease, stroke and cancer."

If 30 extra family doctors are taken on, it could lead to patients having longer consultations.

About 70 doctors have expressed an interest in working on Wearside after a jobs fair last month but the majority are British GPs.

Dr David Chappel, a public health consultant with Newcastle and North Tyneside Health Authority, said about 30 doctors had been identified out of the 2,500 refugees on Tyneside.