Guest columnist: Lincolnshire medical school would help ease GP crisis

Sir Edward Leigh
Sir Edward Leigh

GP services are 
facing a crisis in Lincolnshire.

Some parts of the county are well served but in others 
patients face quite a long wait in order to get an appointment with their GP.

I brought this up recently with the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, pointing out that we have a shortage of 80 GPs in Lincolnshire against a target of 915 in the county, and that only six out of the 30 training places allotted to us have been taken up.

One of the ideas which I believe should be taken up is the foundation of a medical school at Lincoln.

Many studies have shown that doctors are more likely to take up positions near where they studied medicine.

For one thing, they get to know the area and become quite comfortable living in it.

We already know the joys and beauties of Lincolnshire life, but it is understandable that we don’t end up at the top of the list for those doctors who’ve studied down south or in the big cities and don’t know anything about our county.

Last year I joined forces with five other Lincolnshire MPs in signing a letter arguing in favour of a Lincolnshire medical school.

Our signatures were joined by all eight council chief executives, the chairman of the Lincolnshire Health Scrutiny Committee, the pro vice-chancellor of the University of Lincoln, medical directors from all the health trusts in the county, and others.

Ambulance waiting times are another worry.

I’ve heard reports of some people here in Lincolnshire having to wait two hours for an ambulance to turn up.

That is simply not acceptable.

I raised this with the Health Secretary on the floor of the Commons and he promised to investigate.

I have also raised the issue of high street banks, most recently with the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Andrew Percy MP.

We all accept that monopolies are inherently dangerous and bad for the consumer, but our small market towns are being stripped of their banks.

In Caistor there is no bank, while Market Rasen has just one bank branch.

I’ve urged ministers to try and encourage more competition in the retail banking sector so that we can give a shot in the arm to banking in our rural towns.

Looking abroad, we had a chance recently to raise the matter of human rights in Burma here in Parliament.

A few years ago I had organised a debate regarding the Karen tribe in that country, highlighting the oppression they faced at the hands of the military junta.

Happily, Burma is now transitioning to democracy, and the situation of the Karen people has improved, but for others, including the Kachin, it has deteriorated.

We shouldn’t be afraid to use the influence of the British Government abroad to prevent oppression and violence, and I have urged ministers to take a more pro-active stance with regard to human rights in their dealings with Burmese officials.