I spent some of the summer fighting to keep Uley GP surgery and pharmacist in the village. This was alongside the fantastic parish council and hundreds of committed residents who were all desperate not to lose their doctors. Our local GPs are cherished and we would be lost without them.

I have therefore been saddened to see so many criticisms of GPs in my post bag, across the media and attacks on social media. They have borne a big responsibility in dealing with Covid and they have done a tremendous job as a vital part of the vaccine rollout on top of their daily business.

Like my staff who often have to absorb hate aimed at me, GP reception staff are reportedly leaving their positions totally fed up with how they are treated by the public. This must stop.

The majority of the concerns are about not being seen face-to-face or being able to get through on the telephone. This is something I have sympathy for - particularly for our older residents who are not technologically minded and who have built relationships of trust with their local doctors’ surgery.

GPs needed to change how they operate due to the pandemic though. They are still seeing people in person as well as doing virtual appointments but trying to manage busy waiting rooms so the covid virus does not spread on top of a range of other pressures. The hybrid virtual and in person appointment system is likely to be here to stay so I appeal to everybody to work with their surgery to find the best option for them.

I have also received comments about GPs working part time. You may find that some GPs - often women with caring responsibilities but not exclusively - work ‘part time’. Yet I can assure you that their part time week usually strays into the other days and frequently includes extremely long working hours.

At a very basic level, we need Stroud to be a beacon of positivity for our doctors as it is tough to recruit GPs into rural areas already. Our beautiful towns and villages and innovative practice in fields like social prescribing may not be enough.

For a variety of reasons, the number of full-time GPs has fallen by 1,800 since 2015 and this is in part a reason why GPs are struggling to see patients as population and demand rises. Last year saw a record-breaking number of doctors starting training as GPs and most sectors are offering flexible working now but I fear the current media backlash will put more people off going into primary care.

The Government is working to find solutions that are in its control and more money has been made available. You will have heard Ministers say that they are keen for GPs to get back to normal and I agree that in many, many cases a face-to-face appointment is the best way forward. GPs agree with this too.

Conversely, although I will champion GPs, a threat of strike action by the British Medical Association at this point is very unhelpful. It will do nothing to inspire confidence or allow everyone to work together to tackle the current negative narrative.

I think we can turn things around. I am personally trying to say thank you even more to our stretched health professionals and listen to the reasons behind advice before reacting. This is not easy sometimes. It has been a traumatic time for so many of us. Having a health problem or being worried for a family member is extremely scary.

I have had times with my new baby being poorly where I wanted to run up the road to the surgery with her so she could be seen by a medic rather than be on a call. Yet my doctors in the village have been wonderful and have been right in their approach each time.

Patience on all sides is needed here as we deal with the extensive disruption that covid has caused.

I have recovered from taking part in the Stroud half-marathon at the weekend although getting down the stairs is a little tricky! I managed to run the 13.1 miles in just over two hours in aid of the Friends of Rush Skatepark. Many thanks for all those who took part, those who organised it and the people who came along to cheer us all on. It was a great day and it makes me proud to be Stroud’s MP.