A COUNCILLOR has written to MPs on behalf of a local authority calling on them to lobby the government to tackle a national shortage of GPs.

Durham County Council’s cabinet member for adult and health services, Councillor Lucy Hovvels issued the letter after tabling a motion at the last meeting of the authority’s full council.

The motion urges local MPs to use their influence in Parliament to help attract, recruit and retain GPs across the country.

It also suggests the introduction of a weighting system, which would see those areas where there are significant difficulties in recruiting GPs, treated more favourably.

The motion says: “As GPs get older and wish to retire, it is becoming increasingly difficult to attract, recruit and sustain new GPs as there is a national shortage, which needs a national solution.

“There is strong evidence that GPs prefer urban locations over rural ones and County Durham is not isolated in this challenge.

“This trend is increasing in rural areas across the country and a preventative approach is required.”

“With a national shortage of GPs, a higher proportion of GPs are choosing to work in the south of England.”

Dr Stewart Findlay, chief clinical officer for NHS Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We welcome this support from Durham County Council.

“Although we have put in place a number of initiatives to attract doctors to this area we need to do more.

“A large proportion of our GPs are nearing retirement age and unless we make areas such as County Durham and in particular our rural areas attractive for young doctors to work in, there will be a staffing crisis in years to come.”