Shortage of rural doctors puts patients' health at risk

For immediate release

Friday 17 February 2017

A shortage of rural GPs has left rural patients waiting weeks to see their local doctor.

The Rural Services Network is backing calls for urgent 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."

It follows the revelation that a shortage of doctors means patients in part of rural Lincolnshire must wait four weeks to see a GP.

Manjeet Gill, chief executive of West Lindsey District Council, said: "Some of our practices have four week waiting times to see a GP and have failed to recruit more doctors – despite many efforts at recruiting and many forms of incentives and attraction packages."

West Lindsey councillors recently passed a motion calling on the government to provide extra funding to attract GPs and health professionals to the area.

They are proposing a system of "rural weighting" payments by the NHS and government to make it more financially attractive for doctors to work in villages and market towns.

The motion was submitted by councillor Sheila Bibb.

Councillor Bibb said: "Here in West Lindsey, there are places within the district where appointments with a doctor involve a four-week wait – longer than the national average."

She added: "This is a very different experience to the situation in many urban areas – and in part due to the inability to attract GP's to serve in a rural area."

The council says a system of "rural weighting" – similar to the accepted practice of "London weighting" – would help to attract much-needed physicians to the district.

In turn, this would facilitate the better provision of health services.

Councillor Bibb said: "We would like to encourage other rural authorities to support us in this and lobby their MPs as well."

Notes to Editors:

[1] The Rural Services Network seeks to provide a voice for rural communities by representing rural services, networking between rural service organisations and establishing and broadcasting best practice in rural service provision.

It comprises SPARSE Rural, the Rural Assembly, the wider Rural Services Partnership and the RSN Community Group. The organisation works with Rural England, a stand-alone CIC research group.

For details, visit

Media contact:

Graham Biggs
Rural Services Network
T: 01588 674 922
M: 07966 790197

Councillor Bibb

David Inman
T:01822 851370 / 01822 614530




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