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Access to GPs: Rural Communities

Volume 738: debated on Tuesday 17 October 2023

8. What recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of the level of access to GPs in rural communities. (906551)

We have increased funding for general practice by about a fifth in real terms since 2018. We have increased the workforce by about 30% since 2019 alone, with 2,000 extra doctors and 31,000 extra clinicians going into general practice. With the hard work of GPs, that has enabled about 15% more appointments than before the pandemic. In rural areas we are going further with things such as the targeted in-house recruitment scheme and the elements of the funding formula that favour rural areas.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that answer, but I have repeatedly raised with Ministers the specific case of an innovative model from Long Crendon Parish Council to use land secured through planning gain to replace Long Crendon Surgery, which closed during the pandemic. There is an agreement for Unity Health to provide primary care services there, but no money to physically build. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has advised consistently that the money be sought from the integrated care board, but after prolonged talks it has said that there is no money. Will the Minister look at this innovative model again? It is a great way of building rural GP provision in the future, with a mind to his Department making it happen.

I will absolutely look closely at that specific case. My hon. Friend has put a huge amount of work into Long Crendon. As he knows, we are already changing the national planning policy framework to enable more developer contributions to flow into such innovative projects. We have more GP practices than we did in 2010, but we continue to look at ways to go further.