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GP practice closures will worsen urgent care crisis, warn emergency medicine doctors

The increasing number of GP practice closures is exacerbating an ongoing crisis in urgent and emergency care, according to emergency medicine doctors.

Dr Clifford Mann, president of the College of Emergency Medicine, has lent his organisation’s support to Pulse’s Stop Practice Closures campaign, saying it recognises the ‘enormous importance of high-quality primary care to both planned and unscheduled care’.

He added: ‘The closure of practices will badly affect the access for patients, especially the elderly and those with poor mobility.’

‘It will also accentuate the current crisis in urgent care and worsen the situation in crowded A&E departments.’

‘Consequently, it is imperative that the situation is reviewed immediately and the vital skills of general practice are adequately funded and supported.’

Pulse launched its campaign after revealing that more than 100 practices across the UK had either closed or were actively considering closing, as a result of funding cuts and a recruitment crisis.

Former GPC negotiatior Dr Peter Holden told Pulse that he - along with GPC chair Chaand Nagpaul and GPC Wales chair Charlotte Jones - had met with the College of Emergency Medicine to discuss the escalating healthcare crises in primary and emergency care.

He said: ‘It’s obvious that this is about a whole system of care. They know and we know that we’re all just running full tilt to stand still. We have got to stop these closures.’

‘The current policy of the DH and NHS England is to make propositions to GPs that they know are emotional blackmail and are not fully costed or reimbursed. It’s at the root of where surgery closures are coming from.’

‘If surgeries close, there are fewer GP appointments and it puts more pressure on everything else, because it will overspill to A&E. This is not a money-saving exercise, and MPS and the people should be made aware of what is happening.’

The College of Emergency Medicine is the latest organisation to lend its support publicly to Pulse’s Stop Practices Closures campaign. Other high-profile organisations backing the campaign include the BMA, RCGP, Royal College of Nursing, National Alliance of Primary Care, NHS Alliance, Unite and the Family and Dispensing Doctors Associations.

Readers' comments (5)

  • Sadly if we are to maintain a sustainable health service, practices actually need to close. It's only when this happens that the public will realise they have been sold a lie by the government and the truth is, we're not all living it up on the profits from the infamous 2004 contract. The sooner the present mess is sorted out the better.

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  • Well if the BMA grew a pair and called for a week strike from doing secondary care work which is now 20% of my work, the NHS Trusts will grind to a halt and and the government will realize how much work we do.
    We should have cease and desist notices to Trusts on dumped work to be sent from GP practices.
    Also most practices that are squeezed by the CCG, CQC are working in deprived areas and when they collapse, people will treat ambulance service and A&E as GP surgery extension and the full force of problem will be felt.

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  • Here in NI - in the last 12 years - 100 % rise in GP consultations with NO increase in GP whole time equivalents.
    30 % rise in A+E attendances with an increase of 80% Consultant numbers.
    Yet, somehow, we GPs should do more to reduce A+E attendances !!!
    Makes no mathematical sense at all, except our increased consultations are all free.
    In fact, looking through our A+E LES attendances - the real reason is poor and untimely secondary care ie a lady with gall stones attends us over 30 times and A+E 3 times, waiting for her GB operation.
    Done timely, she would not attend at all.
    This is a widespread problem. We could cut both GP and A+E attendances by 40% if things were sorted in time by secondary care. It is easy to blame GPs, even though our workload has actually doubled!!! What a farce!!!

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  • And the doubling of work is partly because patients keep re- attending with the same problem while they wait for years on waiting lists.
    So, instead of GPs increasing A+E work, poor and untimely secondary care provision is increasing our workloads hugely!!!!

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  • Very well said 07 23.
    This likely represents the situation nationally.
    Its brilliant- first we are the cause when we are there - then we will be the cause when we are not !!!
    Maybe A+E medicine can explain.
    Truth is they don't really care and just want to drain the system of more money to empire build and will use any situation to achieve this

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