Political figures have been reacting to a report published by the Lancashire and Cumbria Consortium of Local Medical Committees which said that the financial pressures faced by GP surgeries in Cumbria is 'alarming’.

The report sought to highlight the problems felt by GPs which has led to more than 200,000 people in Cumbria being signed up to GP practices which are 'at risk’.

"The future of general practice, collectively and individually, is at stake here,” said the report.

“If action and serious attention is not given to this pressing issue, there is a very real possibility of mass practice closures and patients finding that access to a GP will worsen significantly."

As part of the report, one west Cumbrian GP warned that if financial pressures continue, the NHS will be forced to start charging for appointments.

The Green Party candidate for Carlisle said that the problems highlighted in the report are a ‘disgrace’.

"The message is clear - the current state of GP surgeries in North Cumbria is no longer sustainable without immediate and increased funding,” said Gavin Hawkton.

News and Star: Gavin HawktonGavin Hawkton (Image: Supplied)"This is a crisis that brings privatisation through the back door. As we have seen with the decline of NHS dentistry, people across the country can no longer get appointments and are forced to go private - something not everyone can afford. Just imagine this with our healthcare when NHS general practices fade away, and people cannot afford to see a private doctor.

"We live in one of the wealthiest countries in the world; it is a disgrace to see this unfolding. As are the platitudes in response from political parties that won't address the key issue of privatisation by the back door. Behind their rhetoric what we see is the decline of our healthcare and a drive towards yet more austerity and cuts."

Liberal Democrat candidate for Carlisle and Cumberland Councillor for Stanwix, Cllr Brian Wernham, said that there was an ‘urgent need’ for intervention in GP practices in Cumbria.

“The report from the local Consortium of Local Medical Committees presents a troubling picture,” he said.

“It highlights the severe financial pressures facing GP surgeries in Cumbria, painting an alarming scenario where the future of general practice is at risk.

“I am determined to prevent the privatisation of GP services, maintaining the NHS as a service accessible to all residents of Carlisle, regardless of their financial status.

News and Star: Brian WernhamBrian Wernham (Image: Supplied)“My policies will tackle the root causes of the current GP crisis by increasing training places for doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals and supporting existing staff to reduce burnout and improve retention rates.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We have introduced the first ever Long-Term Workforce Plan for the NHS, which will help us transform GP services nationwide, providing 2,000 more GP training places a year by 2031, and there are nearly 2,800 more doctors and 34,000 extra staff in general practice now compared to December 2019.

"Last year, the NHS also delivered 50 million more GP appointments – meeting the government’s manifesto commitment.

“GP funding increased in real terms by 19 per cent between 2017 and 2022, and our Primary Care Recovery Plan is investing up to £645 million to expand pharmaceutical services and take pressure off general practice.”