Petition warns of rural GP shortage

Hundreds of people have signed a petition warning that GP practices in rural areas are struggling to recruit doctors.

Started by Lincolnshire GP Ben Loryman, the petition says many rural surgeries facing recruitment difficultues. are being forced to close.

Launched on 19 September, the petition calls on the government to put general practitioners on the Home Office's ”shortage occupation list”.

It has attracted more than 820 signatures.

    See also: Shortage of GPs risks rural health

“There are many GPs from outside the EU who would like to work in the UK,” says the petition.

“However, practices can't offer them a job without going though the visa bureaucracy, and the NHS is losing many good doctors as a result.

The petition will run until 19 March 2018.

At 10,000 signatures, the government will respond to the petition. At 100,000 signatures, the petition will be considered for debate in Parliament.

The government has repeatedly warned that a shortage of rural GPs has left rural patients waiting weeks to see their local doctor.

The Rural Services Network is backing calls for government action to help recruit more GPs and other health professionals to work in the countryside.

Rural Services Network chief executive Graham Biggs said: "The situation is so bad that some rural patients are having to wait the best part of a month to see a doctor."

Earlier this year, it emerged that a shortage of doctors meant patients in part of rural Lincolnshire must wait four weeks to see a GP.

Other rural communities are also suffering from a shortage of doctors.

In April, Dr David Davies, who works in rural West Somerset, said it was a struggle to recruit new staff with many current GPs approaching retirement.

Dr Davies said his surgery had spent more than a year trying to recruit a new GP but it had proved difficult to find someone who wanted to live and work in the area.

It comes as a new study found that GPs rural areas were more likely to get outstanding ratings than those in urban areas.

Nine in 10 GP surgeries in England have been rated as good and outstanding by inspectors, according to Care Quality Commission ratings.

The number of people registering with GP practices has increased by 7% over the past three years, it found.

Rural practices are often embracing digital technologies such as telecare to provide services across large areas, said the CQC.

The petition is available here.


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