I’ve never yet had a constituent complain to me about our brilliant local GPs.
To a man and woman, these dedicated doctors work long hours in a world where demand is increasing because medicine is now much better able to treat chronic conditions. There’s also the challenge of patients dubbed the ‘worried well’, who not so long ago would have stayed at home.
But I do hear often that getting an appointment can involve too long a wait, whether that’s on the phone in the first place or because we don’t have the number of GPs we need locally. Some of this can be eased by asking to see any GP rather than the same one a patient usually sees, but much of it is down to that increased demand and increased local population.
So I know that locally we need to do more to recruit, retain and invest in general practice. In the course of the election campaign, I discussed this issue with Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt as I drove him from Boston to Skegness, and since the election NHS England now offers a £20,000 golden handshake to GP trainees in Lincolnshire, acknowledging that remote areas such as ours face particular challenges with recruitment. It’s an idea, by the way, borrowed from the Scottish Highlands.
Last week, Mr Hunt announced the ‘GP Forward View’, identifying how £2.4bn of investment into general practice will be spent. That means cutting bureaucracy that drives GPs mad, recruiting more and investing in modern facilities.
I know, for us locally, it can’t come soon enough.
Matt Warman is the Member of Parliament for Boston and Skegness.