THERE is only one GP on the Isle of Wight for every 1,700 people, new figures have revealed.

A Freedom of Information request revealed there were 82 practising GPs on the Isle of Wight.

There is a shortage of GPs across the UK, however, numbers of full-time equivalent (FTE) GPs working in England rose over the summer, according to figures published by NHS Digital.

Provisional GP workforce data for September 2018 showed there were 34,205 FTE GPs in England, which was 854 more than in June – a 2.6 per cent increase.

However, this followed a decline of more than 500 between March and June.

In an open letter to Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely, the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), and Isle of Wight NHS Trust, Hans Bromwich, from Cowes, said: "The Isle of Wight would appear to be particularly disenfranchised when it comes to GP numbers by comparison with the UK mainland.

"Additionally, being an Island it is not practicable for patients to register with less pressurised GP practices in adjoining counties, constituents are totally dependent on sparse GP availability on the Isle of Wight.

"The Island desperately needs its fair and equitable number of GPs per head of population.”

Martin Wakeley, interim managing director for NHS Isle of Wight CCG, said the Isle of Wight was no different to anywhere else in the country.

However, the Island was recently awarded £400,000 from NHS England to help recruit and retain GPs.

He said: "That money is already having a positive impact.

"We engaged with every practice on the Island and spoke to virtually every GP, so we know this extra funding is being spent on the issues that they regard as being the biggest priorities.

"We hope the actions now underway, using this investment, will increase the number of Island GPs by between five and ten over the next six to 12 months."

Practices will be given extra support to recruit doctors, providing IT support to access temporary staff more effectively, offering coaching sessions and flexible working options, in addition to mentoring opportunities for practice managers.

Mr Wakeley said: “Recruiting more GPs cannot be the only answer, though.

"Many practices are also employing skilled staff such as nurse practitioners, paramedics and pharmacists to perform some of the tasks traditionally undertaken by GPs, and the effort to employ more goes on.

"While we would love to have more GPs on the Island, and fully expect to see more in the coming months, we know recruitment will continue to be a challenge.

"A huge amount of work is happening very quickly, but we will continue to work with GPs to promote the benefits of working on such a great island, and invest in bringing in the best people."

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Island Labour Chair, Julian Critchley, said: "These statistics show just how critical the underfunding of the NHS has become. There seems to be a continued refusal on the part of the Conservative government to recognise the particular reality of our living on an island, when it comes to ensuring people can access the health services to which they are entitled.

"This is why, in its 2017 manifesto, the Labour Party promised health service funding based on need, not based on a spreadsheet. Labour recognises that the Solent can't be wished away by penny-pinching accountants. The next Labour government will ensure the funds are there to ensure islanders receive the same quality and access to NHS services as those on the mainland."