Concerns over doctor shortage in East Lindsey

There are claims the NHS is still struggling to attract new doctors to East Lindsey - despite a 'golden welcome' incentive package.
There are claims the NHS is still struggling to attract new doctors to East Lindsey - despite a 'golden welcome' incentive package.

The NHS is battling to solve a chronic shortage of GPs in many areas of East Lindsey, it has been claimed.

It is understood the ratio of doctors to patients in some areas is one to 4,500. That is more than double the national average of one per 2,000.

The shock news comes despite claims the NHS has been offering a ‘golden welcome’ package to attract new GPs to the area.

It is understood several communities in East Lindsey have encountered problems attracting new GPs.

Speaking at a recent town council meeting in Horncastle, leader of East Lindsey District Council Craig Leyland said he was concerned about the situation, adding: “I know the number of GPs is an issue in many areas - not just 
East Lindsey.

“There is a ‘golden welcome‘ scheme operating but I’m not aware whether it has been a success.”

The ‘golden welcome’ offers a series of incentives designed to attract new GPs to a specific area.

Reports suggest recruiting new doctors has been a particular problem in many coastal communities. However, there are signs of an improvement at the Marisco Medical Centre practice in Mablethorpe.

Recently appointed director of operations and practice manager Ian Blakey admitted it had been difficult attracting new doctors, but said a possible way forward was a reliance on more ANPs (Advanced Nurse Practitioners).

The practice now has five full time ANPs and four GPs, and Mr Blakey said complaints had reduced by 70 per cent.

It has also been claimed that the NHS is missing out on funding for improvements - because of a lack of staff.

Major housing developments include provision for ‘Section 106’ agreements which effectively tie developers to paying pre-agreed sums of money to boost 
local services.

However, a recent application for 300 homes in Horncastle was given the go-ahead without any application for NHS funding. It is claimed the size of the build could have led to a £250,000 contribution.

Town councillor Brian Burbidge said the NHS only has one-part time member of staff dealing with 106 agreements across the East Midlands.

In a statement, Jim Heys, locality director for NHS England in Lincolnshire, said NHS England ‘recognises the need for greater investment’ in primary care services.

“Overall investment in general practice in NHS England’s first year of operation, 2013/14, was £8.75 billion, up 3.5 per cent on 2012/13 and a 1.6 per cent increase in real terms,” he said. “Our key priority is to ensure that patients have access to high quality GP services.

“We are working with our partners on initiatives to help to support the recruitment of GPs in Lincolnshire. As part of this, NHS England has provided funding for the Local Medical Council to develop the ‘Marketing Lincolnshire General Practice’ initiative.

“The GP recruitment incentive package is designed to attract new GPs into the area. The scheme was introduced this summer and it is too early to understand what impact the scheme will have on recruitment locally.”

On Section 106 agreements, Mr Heys added: “NHS England seeks financial contributions for primary medical care infrastructure from housing developers, where appropriate, in response to the majority of planning applications. In order to produce successful s106 requests, legal tests must be met. NHS England works very closely with clinical commission group and planning colleagues to develop robust requests for s106 funding.”