The Rural Services Network is encouraging people to sign a petition, after a DDA member warned that GP practices in rural areas are struggling to recruit doctors.
Earlier this year Dr David Davies, who works at the DDA member Dunster surgery in 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.
Launched on 19 September, the petition calls on the government to put general practitioners on the Home Office’s ‘shortage occupation’ list.
At 10,000 signatures, the government will respond to the petition. At 100,000 signatures, the petition will be considered for debate in Parliament.
Started by Lincolnshire A&E consultant Ben Loryman, the petition says many rural surgeries facing recruitment difficulties, are being forced to close. “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 through the visa bureaucracy, and the NHS is losing many good doctors as a result.”
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.
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.
The petition will run until 19 March 2018.