Thank you for contacting me about the recruitment and retention of GPs. We must acknowledge that the South West has often not attracted medical staff of all kinds - including to GP practices - as other regions, and this is a challenge for many rural areas.
I know that the Government remains committed to increasing the number of doctors in general practice and is determined to deliver this as soon as possible. The number of GP training places has increased, with 4,000 trainees accepting a place in 2021-22, compared to 2,671 in 2014.
Work is ongoing with NHS England and NHS Improvement, Health Education England and the profession to increase recruitment, address the reasons why doctors leave the profession and encourage them to return to practice.
Through the Covid-19 pandemic, GPs have been able to access additional funding to support expanding capacity through the General Practice Covid Capacity Expansion Fund.
The updated GP Contract Framework announced a number of new retention schemes alongside continued support for existing schemes for the general practice workforce. In areas where there are GP vacancies, the Targeted Enhanced Recruitment Scheme provides a £20,000 salary supplement to attract GP trainees.
I was not able to attend the recent "Rebuild General Practice" event in Parliament because of other engagements but I can assure you I take a close personal interest in health matters as chair of two All Party Parliamentary Groups focusing on Rural Health and Social Care and Access to Medicines and Medical Devices. Indeed, the last report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Rural Health and Social Care which I chaired made 10 recommendations, including for how we might address workforce planning in rural areas.
I continue to press the Government to go further still and to think as creatively as possible in order to solve workforce issues in GP practices and the wider NHS.
Thank you again for contacting me.