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New NHS guidance 'step in right direction' but must be backed up by cash - Farron

January 23, 2017 4:06 PM

South Lakes MP Tim Farron has welcomed new NHS guidance which follows a campaign which began in the South Lakes to protect small rural GP surgeries. The new guidance highlights the difficulties facing rural GP surgeries, but Tim added that "words are not enough", calling for extra cash to support these services.

Tim has welcomed the new guidance, which is the result of a review into GP funding in areas with 'atypical' populations. Tim had repeatedly called for a review into GP funding, to ensure that services in rural areas remain viable. In 2015 Tim submitted a private members bill in parliament calling for changes to guidelines to protect surgeries in this way.

The document acknowledges that "small and isolated practices have particular challenges when meeting demand from dispersed rural communities", because they lack economies of scale.

However, although the new guidance concludes that the standard funding formula "would not ensure the delivery of an adequate general practice service", it does not automatically allow for extra funding to address this. Tim has now written to the Health Secretary to call for extra funding to be made available to support rural practices.

Tim said: "This new guidance is a step in the right direction, but words alone are not enough. This document is right to point out the challenges that rural GPs face, but unless this is backed up by cash it is purely academic.

"Rural GPs in our area, such as the surgeries in Coniston and Hawkshead, provide an essential service to local residents, but will obviously not have the economies of scale that surgeries in big cities have. I am calling on the government to set aside extra cash in a 'Strategic Small Surgeries Fund', so that that GP services in rural areas remain viable."