Date published: 31 January 2017
West Lindsey District Council is calling on all councils to support a motion calling the Government to provide extra funding to attract rural GPs.
The council is taking action after hearing that some of our practices have four week waiting times to see a GP.
Despite many incentives such as ‘golden handshakes’ many have still failed to recruit.
This has prompted support from the chairman of the District Council Cllr Rodger Patterson who resolved to write to all council’s asking them to pass a similar motion.
Cllr Sheila Bibb, Chairman of the prosperous Communities Committee said: “I am concerned the lack of GP’s in rural areas could put people’s lives at risk.
“Patients are being told they have a three or four week waiting list because there are not enough GP’s to see them.
“With conditions like this how are doctors expected to diagnose serious illness such as cancer early in time?
“My constituents are already talking about the need to be assertive just to get an appointment. But what about those who are not assertive and don’t want to burden the system – they simply won’t seek help.
“If we don’t act now – A&E departments will continue to be stretched and there is a risk that people’s lives could be put at risk.
“We are calling on a fairer system - like they have in London to attract GP’s to rural areas. Not only is there a postcode lottery but there is a rural and city lottery.”
Chief Executive of the Council, Manjeet Gill is seeking support from chief executives of other authorities.
She said: “We recognise this issue is not isolated to rural areas like ours which is why we need to work together as a collective voice to make changes. We have discussed the motion with SPARSE, which is made up of rural local authorities and the District Council’s Network have also been approached for its support in this matter.
“As someone who lives in a city I can see a GP within 3 days and referred to a specialist in two weeks if there is a serious issue such as cancer. Therefore to hear people have a four week waiting list to see a GP is not right especially if they are vulnerable.”
- The GP to patient ratio should be 1750 but in Gainsborough it is 3000.
- The number of GP’s in Lincolnshire is 360 and it should have 420.
Tracy Lloyd Practice Manager at Cleveland Surgery thanked the council for highlighting the matter.
She said: “Recruitment in primary care is a problem all across the country and especially in rural areas like Gainsborough.
“I believe the only way is to move forward, working together with the available resources in the area such as GPs and community teams. We need to work collaboratively and try to resolve issues to provide better care to the patients in the area.”
“Cleveland Surgery has tried to recruit in the past and had difficulty getting the appropriate clinicians on-board. This year we have successfully appointed a General Practitioner via a personal contact.”
However, some practices cannot bring the GPs into rural areas even after offering ‘golden handshake’.
Pam Steadman Practice manager at Caskgate Street Surgery said: “We had an opportunity to offer a golden handshake with our recruitment campaign early last year. This was a one off and we have not been able to secure this again with our current advert.
“We have advertised a total of three times since autumn 2015. From these campaigns we were able to employ one salaried GP, recruited from the second round. Our current advert has not attracted any interest at all, not even informal enquiries. There appears to be a total lack of candidates looking for employment within general practice.”
Dr Sunil Hindocha, chief clinical officer at NHS Lincolnshire West Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “There is no doubt that primary care is under severe pressure – not just in Gainsborough and surrounding villages but across Lincolnshire.
“We do face a challenge in attracting GPs to our area and we have launched, with the LMC, a couple of initiatives that seek to improve this. Our GP international recruitment scheme, the first of this kind in the country, will see 25 GPs coming into Lincolnshire over the next few months. We hope that two of these GPs will end up working in Gainsborough. This will ease pressure and give us a bit of time to train up the next generation of GPs in the region.
“The other is an initiative where all the main health organisations in the county come together to think about how we sell Lincolnshire as a great place to work. We know the benefits and enjoyments of working here – that’s why we are all here. But it is vital we get this message to other parts of the country and attract professionals in.
“Our GPs, practice managers, nurse practitioners and other staff all work tirelessly to ensure a good quality and reliable primary care service is delivered and none more so than in the Gainsborough area.
“We appreciate the recognition from West Lindsey District Council that GP recruitment and retention is an issue in Lincolnshire and their full support in making sure the best possible care is given to our patients."