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Council requests government intervention on GP Shortage

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The leader of Swale Borough Council, Cllr Tim Gibson, will write to the Government to ask for help to combat the shortage of general practitioners (GPs) in the borough.

The request follows the unanimous passing of a motion proposed by Cllr Lloyd Bowen, and seconded by Cllr Gibson, at last night’s full council meeting, where councillors agreed on the need for more Government support.

Swale has one of the lowest levels of fully-trained GPs per 1,000 patients in England – 0.39 in 2022, compared to 0.58 in the rest of the country. That means on average each local GP has more than 2,500 patients.

Cllr Gibson will write to Steve Barclay, the Secretary of State for Health, asking him to work with the council to provide innovative, funded solutions to encourage more GPs to relocate to Swale.

Cllr Tim Gibson, leader of the council, said:

“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.

“There are some places in Swale where there are over 7000 people to just one fully trained GP, this is completely unacceptable and needs to be resolved.

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

“The cost of living and housing in our area is stated as one of the biggest reasons GPs won’t relocate to Kent.

“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.”

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