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'GPs are closing small practices, not us', says DH

The Government has dismissed the concerns of MPs who claimed the rollout of GP-led health centres ignores and could even worsen health inequalities, arguing improved access and choice were ‘what patients across the country want to see'.

And the Department of Health insisted it was GPs themselves, rather GP-led health centres, who would prompt the closure of small practices and the reconfiguration of local services.

A report on health inequalities published in March by the Commons health committee had raised concerns over the one-size-fits-all rollout of GP-led health centres, warning it ‘has not involved due consideration of either need or inequalities'.

‘In fact, centralising GP services may make access more difficult for lower socio-economic groups,' the report added.

But the DH's response, published last week, insisted there was ‘clear evidence that increasing the number of primary care clinicians in areas with the greatest health need is one of the most effective ways of improving the health of the population'.

The DH said it was determined to ‘tackle historic and persistent problems with inequity of access to GP services, especially in more disadvantaged or deprived areas'.

The official response added that while the new GP-led health centres would only increase primary care capacity, ‘that does not mean that existing GP provision will remain as it is'.

‘There has been a long-term trend, led by GPs, away from single-handed or small practices towards more GPs working together in teams,' it said.

‘The introduction of the extra capacity represented by the GP-led health centres and additional GP practices will not affect those continuing decisions by the profession to choose how they best configure themselves to deliver care to patients.'

GP-led health centres such as Hillside Bridge (pictured) are not responsible for small practices closing, the Department of Health has said GP-led health centres such as Hillside Bridge (pictured) are not responsible for small practices closing, the Department of Health has said

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