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Council asks Government to fund GPs’ housing to ease recruitment crisis

Council asks Government to fund GPs’ housing to ease recruitment crisis

A local council will ask the Government for help to fund housing for GPs, in a bid to encourage them to relocate to its under-doctored area.

Swale Borough Council has decided to write to health secretary Steve Barclay asking him to work with the council to provide ‘funded solutions to encourage more GPs to locate in Swale’.

The council said this could include financial assistance given to the council and to GPs ‘to assist with housing for a fixed period’.

The request followed the unanimous passing of a motion during a meeting earlier this month when councillors agreed on the need for more Government support to retain GPs.

Councillors said that Swale has one of the lowest levels of fully-trained GPs per 1,000 patients in England – 0.39 in 2022 – and that this means on average each local GP has more than 2,500 patients.

Councillor Lloyd Bowen, who proposed the motion, said that the shortage of GPs is ‘a concern we cannot ignore’.

He said: ‘I was talking to a GP last night about this and he said “if you were a GP what incentive is there for you to come here and have that number of patients?”

‘We also need to consider GPs themselves and their own wellbeing – a sick GP is no good for the patients and their mental health and wellbeing is of huge importance.’

He also said that the rising cost of living in Swale means local GPs are considering relocation, adding: ‘We cannot let financial constraints deter dedicated doctors from serving our communities – we must do something.’

Councillor Angela Harrison told the meeting that some GP surgeries in the borough have experienced huge rises in rent, and that estates solutions are needed in the short term.

She added: ‘I’m really surprised anyone wants to be a GP these days and I’m even more surprised anyone wants to run a surgery.’

Councillor Tim Gibson, who leads the council, said the cost of living and housing in the area is one of the biggest reasons new GPs won’t relocate to Kent.

He said: ‘We need to make Swale an attractive option for new GPs to locate to and financial assistance from the government given to the council and GPs to assist with the cost of housing would go a long way.’

He also said that there are some places in Swale where there are over 7,000 people to just one fully trained GP and that ‘this is completely unacceptable and needs to be resolved’.

He added: ‘Access to healthcare is a fundamental right and GPs play an important central role, especially with diagnosis and referral.

‘Unfortunately, there is a dire shortage of GPs and recruitment is not able to keep up with the numbers leaving the profession.

‘Couple this with an increase in demand due to the population growth of Swale, hospitals that were already stretched are now under even more pressure.

‘Following the urgent motion at the council meeting we are asking the government to help us solve these issues, through funding and innovative solutions.’

In January, GPs were being offered £15,000 as well as support in relocating, to join practices in deprived and under-staffed areas of the South of England, including Swale.

In August, a Pulse survey found that nearly one in five GP positions in the UK are unfilled according to a Pulse survey, the highest since the data has been collected.

Last week, the shadow health secretary ‘made it very clear’ that any funding that becomes ‘available’ under a Labour Government would go to primary care and other non-acute sectors.


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Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

John Graham Munro 18 October, 2023 11:49 am

I once was asked to do a locum in Swale————and name my own fee

David Church 18 October, 2023 12:08 pm

Can’t most of the local residents afford private GPs?
That would bring down the number per NHS GP significantly, if they are deducted?
I suspect they voted in favour of running down the NHS at recent elections anyway.
If they want to rely on publicly provided care, perhaps they should reconsider how they vote next election?

Scottish GP 18 October, 2023 1:30 pm

Death of a thousand cuts, some inflation beating pay rises may help better than treating us as benefit claimants

Past Caring 18 October, 2023 2:28 pm

Recruiting and retaining GPs will not be fixed by offering targeted short term incentive payments, I also doubt whether imposing a salaried service will improved the situation in under-doctored areas, The BMA and GPC have to fight to ensure the downward spiral in GP remuneration and partnership profits is reversed.

The Socialist 18 October, 2023 3:08 pm

I am sure they do this in North Korea, Parts of Communist China and even in parts of Russia and former Communist vestiges of Europe. This is certainly one more way to for the central and Regional governments (also known as Councils) to control a subjugate highly qualified and experienced professionals.

Well, you asked for this… when you lost your spines and submitted to state-subservience.

George Orwell must be turning in his graves 😁

David Jarvis 18 October, 2023 6:11 pm

I did my GP training in Deal. Housing is eye wateringly expensive. With family in the North it is also very hard to get out of Kent to the rest of the UK. Almost easier to go to France until Brexit messed it up. Amazes me they find GP’s at all in the South East unless kept by banker partners.

Adam Crowther 18 October, 2023 6:16 pm

How demoralising as a hardworking dedicated professional 😢. I am sure that remuneration in other parts of the world mean that a highly trained professional can afford to rent or purchase their own house and perhaps feed and clothe their families too 🤔

SUBHASH BHATT 18 October, 2023 7:03 pm

I very well know how can a gp start a practice in such area as I started my practice in so called open area in 1982.. I had no patients and had to fund my survival by r working for out of hours service 5 nights a week.
They used to have designated area where they are guaranteed to receive payment for 3 years.
Way to do it is to get commitment from residents to register with new gp. Number should be at least 1500.
Premises need o be provided by nhs. Guaranteed income including staff cost. For 3 years.
That may appeal to a gp..i

Turn out The Lights 19 October, 2023 11:00 am

Says a lot when according to the Daily Heil etal GPs are overpaid and lazy but still cant afford housing in an area of the UK. This country and this government are really f+++ed up.

a S 19 October, 2023 6:40 pm

How about paying GP’s a middle class income so they can afford their own housing. Revolutionary in the public sector but standard practise in private sector.
GP salaries are always compared to postmen, cleaner and shop assistant salaries when we should at very least be compared to electrician, plumber or estate agent salary. As for solicitor, and IT slaries thets a whole different ball game.