Patients need good access to GP services wherever they live, says RCGP

Publication date: 17 March 2017

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the RCGP, has responded to a new report out today by the Local Government Association and Public Health England on patient health in rural areas.

She said: “GPs and our teams are under massive pressure right across the UK, but there are certainly specific challenges facing general practice, and our patients, in remote and rural areas.
 
“With our population ageing, and our patients routinely living with more than one long term condition, demand for our service has soared in recent years, but investment in general practice has actually dropped and our workforce hasn’t risen in step. GP practices in remote and rural areas often report difficulties in recruiting enough GPs and practice staff needed to meet this rise in patient demand.
 
“Many of the innovations we are exploring in order to cope with growing demand, for example working in federations of practices to pool resources, might also not work for practices in remote and rural areas as by their very nature, they might be too isolated. And whilst practices merging might work in more built up areas, the result of a practice closing in a rural area might lead to patients having to travel a very long way to their nearest surgery – and public transport might be lacking.
 
“Another serious concern is communications problems for rural surgeries – it’s essential for GP surgeries to be able to communicate with both patients and other areas of the health service, something that is often done electronically. If a practice only has slow internet connectivity, or lacks internet access altogether, then it will have an impact on the level of care a practice is able to provide for patients.
 
“Measures are being taken. Health Education England’s targeted recruitment campaign offering bursaries to GPs to train and practise in under-doctored areas was piloted in a number of rural areas and early signs are that it has been a success. We need to see more schemes like this, to ensure that our patients have good access to general practice services, wherever they live.”

 

Further Information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7574/7575/7633
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659
press@rcgp.org.uk

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 52,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.

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