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GP Recruitment

Volume 721: debated on Tuesday 1 November 2022

We are making progress on increasing numbers. The number of doctors in general practice has increased over the past three years, from 34,729 in September 2019 to more than 37,000 in September this year.

I am grateful for that answer. I recently met representatives of the local GP network in my constituency who described to me their difficulties in employing GPs. What can the Secretary of State do to ensure that people choose to go into general practice and to make the job much more attractive, so that he hits his target of recruiting 6,000 more GPs, which he is woefully way off doing?

I touched on that exact point in an earlier answer. There are parts of the country where it is more difficult to recruit GPs; that is why we have a targeted fund to attract people into those areas, with grants of up to £20,000. Alongside the appointment of GPs, we are also looking at using the wider primary care skills workforce, so that people can get to the appointment that they need.

Will my right hon. Friend tell me how patients in the Witham constituency will benefit from the really important investment in more GPs and more GP training? And if he cannot tell me today, will he write to me about the progress being made on the Witham health hub, through which more health workers and GPs need to come together to serve the local community?

I am grateful for that question. The plan for patients, which was set out by my predecessor, my right hon. Friend the Member for Suffolk Coastal (Dr Coffey), addressed the issue that my right hon. Friend the Member for Witham (Priti Patel) raises on behalf of her constituents. That includes how people make an informed choice about which practice is best for them, how we make it easier for them to book an appointment and how we harness technology better—in particular, the very significant number of patients, including in Witham, who will have downloaded the NHS app and will be able to access services through it from this month.