Rural Forum

Welcome from the Rural Forum

We represent rural and remote GPs and promote rural issues inside and outside the College Faculties. There are around 800 RCGP members currently signed up to the rural forum, who are invited to participate in discussions pertinent to this group of members. We aim to advance the College's objectives in rural practice; facilitate communication and networking of rural doctors in the UK and support the professional development of rural GPs. By working with the College, we raise issues concerning remote and rural GPs to help inform political debate.

Get involved

The Rural Forum runs a GoogleGroup for members to communicate, seek assistance, canvass ideas and gain support - please contact us for information on how to join.  The Forum also runs educational conferences which helps meet CPD requirements and receive quality education, as well as supporting remote and rural colleagues.

Upcoming events

Our next Conference will be February 2019 in Shropshire - watch this space!

Our blog

Please connect to our blog page for regular updates.

Rural Forum Officers

Robert Lambourn. Chair, South East Thames Faculty ProvostDr Robert Lambourn. Chair

  • Dr Christopher Clark - England Representative
  • Dr Haldane Maxwell - Scottish Representative
  • Dr Melanie Plant - Welsh Representative
  • Dr Miriam Dolan - Northern Ireland Representative
  • Dr Christopher Williams - Scottish Representative
  • Mr Michael Critchell - Student Representative
  • Miss Rosannah Jackson - Student Representative
  • Dr Sanjeev Maskara - First5 Representative
  • Mrs Jane Randall-Smith - EURIPA Representative
  • Dr John Wynn-Jones - WONCA Working Party Rural Practice (WWPRP) Chair, European Rural and Isolated Practitioners Association (EURIPA) Past President. RCGP representative and contact with Rural International Organisations
  • Dr Steve McCabe - Scottish Representative

The RCGP Rural Forum group aims to improve representation of rural GPs within the College.

The forum supports GP revalidation and investigates education that seeks to ensure recruitment and retention in rural practices. We aim to improve communication with rural members, offer input for CPD programmes and research and provide the rural perspective in shaping College policy.

Our aims are to:

  • Represent rural and remote GPs, and promote rural issues inside and outside the College faculties
  • Encourage rural GPs to engage with the College
  • Advance the College's objectives in rural practice
  • Facilitate communication and networking of rural doctors in the UK
  • Support the professional development of rural GPs
  • Promote remote and rural issues at appropriate levels, engaging with the profession and managers and informing political debate.


  • Being Rural RCGP Scotland Rural Strategy Group policy paper [PDF]

RCGP Scotland Rural Strategy Group issued their policy paper Being Rural in an exclusive interview with Daniel Sanderson of the Herald on the challenges facing remote and rural general practice.

The Rural Forum initiative has been running for five years. Growing interest and increasing membership numbers suggest that we are meeting our aims to promote rural general practice and highlight issues facing rural GPs.

Initiatives include:

Rural Forum Steering Group

The Forum is managed by a Steering Group supported by the administrator, Paula Lythgoe who supervises the day to day running of the Forum. The Steering Group consists of representatives from the 4 nations and co-opted members to represent AiTs, First5s, GPC, Dispensing Doctors' Association EURIPA, WONCA Rural Working Party. 

To find out more about members of the Rural Forum Steering Group please view the links below.

Rural Forum Steering Group Minutes

Rural Events Calendar

Watch out for future Rural Forum events.

Rural Services Network

Dear Colleague,

The Rural Services Network is encouraging people to sign a petition, warning that GP practices in rural areas are struggling to recruit doctors.

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 GP 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 though 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.

Rural Services Network Chief Executive, Graham Biggs MBE said: "The situation is so bad that some rural patients are having to wait the best part of a month to see a doctor."

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.

Other rural communities are also suffering from a shortage of doctors. In April, Dr David Davies, who works in rural West 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.

We would encourage everyone to sign the petition at:

The petition will run until 19 March 2018.

Please forward the link to any relevant colleagues who may be interested and share with your networks if possible.

Thank you in advance for your support.

Kerry Booth
Assistant Chief Executive
Rural Services Network
01822 851 370

Rural Forum Discussion Google Group

This is the means by which members can follow and inform topical debate and can contribute to Rural Forum activity. An operational guide will be sent electronically on joining the Forum.

Join the Forum

The Forum is open to any College member and is completely free. Join by emailing your details to us. Please include the following details:

  • First name and surname
  • GMC number
  • The email address which you registered with the College's membership database

Benefits of joining

  • Representation of rural practitioners' interests in the care of their patients at all levels
  • Established democratic representative structure
  • Opportunity for you to inform and influence College policy
  • A virtual system of communication via e-communication and web based facilities
  • Fee reduction for attendance at educational meetings and courses run by the Forum
  • Opportunity to comment on and influence College policy opportunity to influence College interaction with other agencies where their policies and initiatives may impact on rural healthcare.

Contact us

RCGP Rural Forum
Room TF14
Innovation Centre
Westlakes Science Technology Park
Moor Row
CA24 3TP  

T: 020 3188 7719

Opening hours

Offices opening hours: 08:00-16:00, Tuesday to Friday

Follow us

Don't forget to follow us on social media for the latest updates: 


Useful Links

WHO Reference Documents on Remote and Rural Retention Policy for Health Workers

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