GP shortages are hitting rural and coastal areas especially hard as doctors struggle to cope with large populations of the elderly, according to a new analysis.
The number of villages and small towns which have no surgery within three miles is growing annually, according to the Daily Telegraph. Its investigation follows the successful national campaign by villagers in Mevagissey to keep their local GP.
This was solved with the aid of NHS England – but in the last two years at least 162 villages have lost access to surgeries, the paper’s investigation found. In total there are 1,946 communities that have no surgery within three miles.
In some areas residents are 14 miles from a surgery while there are 206 areas where villages are at least five miles from a practice. The worst affected area is the Cotswolds, the investigation found.
The paper quotes additional data from the Department of Transport showing that more than 137,000 households live more than an hour from a surgery by public transport.
Royal College of GPs chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said: “For many people the idea of retiring to a coastal village or a rural area seems idyllic but it doesn’t always work out that way for those working there.”
She added: “Every day we are seeing patients with a long list of problems that need untangling, trying to shoehorn all this into an appointment when every encounter can be a matter of life and death.”