GPs’ housing should be funded, Kent council says

26th October 2023 by NASGP

GPs’ housing should be funded, Kent council says

GPs in Swale in Kent should have their housing costs subsidised, the local borough council has told the health secretary.

In a letter to Steve Barclay, seen by Pulse, Swale Borough Council called on Steve Barclay to deliver ‘funded solutions’ to draw more GPs to work locally.

The borough Swale, which includes the Isle of Sheppey, suffers from recruitment challenges owing to its remote and rural geography. Sheerness on Sheppey also includes pockets of intense deprivation.

Communities in the UK are turning to more unorthodox means of finding new family doctors. Last February, villagers in Lostwithiel, Cornwall recorded a music video in the hopes of attracting a new salaried GP to the area.

Last year, Alderney in Guernsey was forced to close its local GP practice after a failure to recruit a new GP to a vacancy.

Dr Richard Fieldhouse, NASGP chair, said: “It is encouraging to witness Swale Borough Council’s proactive stance in addressing this issue by calling for government-backed local funding initiatives. Through our work with ICBs, we are acutely aware of the recruitment crisis in remote and rural practices. We strongly urge the Government to consider implementing solutions such as a relocation fund to enhance GP recruitment and retention in boroughs like Swale.

“However, it is crucial that the responsibility does not solely fall on local councils, whose resources are already strained. The Government should be investing more substantially in its GP workforce at a foundational level – easing the process for IMGs to remain in the UK post-qualification, and engaging more effectively with the burgeoning sessional GP workforce. This would help alleviate the mounting issue of increasing GP workload while ensuring sustainable healthcare provision across the country.”

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