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Rural Services Network
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."
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