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At the heart of general practice since 1960

500% increase in GP practices asking managers for support to close surgeries

Exclusive There has been a massive rise in practices approaching NHS managers about advice on closing or merging over the past year, Pulse can reveal.

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request by Pulse – made as part of our Stop Practice Closures campaign – reveals 169 practices approached NHS England for advice about closing or merging between April and December last year.

Extrapolated across the 2014/15 financial year, this represents an increase of 508% compared with the 37 requests over the whole of April 2013-March 2014.

The figures also revealed that 78 practices have either closed completely or closed a branch surgery as a result of merger since April 2013 – a trend that has accelerated since April 2014.

Pulse revealed last year that there were more than 100 practices who had sought advice from their LMC about potentially closing, which led to Pulse starting the Stop Practice Closures campaign.

However, the latest figures reveal a massive rise in practices formally asking NHS England for advice due to funding cuts, being blocking from closing their practice list and problems with recruiting new GPs.

Dr Robert Mockett, a GP partner in Brighton, was forced to close his Eaton Place Surgery at the weekend as he and his partner are retiring and could not find anyone to take over the surgery.

Speaking to Pulse before the practice closed, Dr Mockett said: ‘The outpouring of emotion from patients has had me in tears all morning. I thought I’d stay until 65 but I would not survive. I feel for my patients.’

Dr Peter Maksimczyk, a GP in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, said he is in the ‘very sad’ situation of potentially having to sell his surgery because he can’t find anyone willing to take it on in the current financial climate.

He says: ‘We have a nice, traditional practice with high patient population. I am 64 and still working full time; my partner is slightly younger. In the next few months, I will be seeking to retire, or at least drastically reduce my commitment, but am concerned that no one will want to take on the practice.

‘If that is the case, I will have to sell up and convert the surgery into flats, which would be very sad. I’m certainly not going to carry on doing what I am now.’ 

Dr Robert Morley, chair of the GPC contracts and regulations subcommittee, says: ‘This writing has been on the wall for the best part of a couple of decades and is now painted in enormous bold capital letters in a fluorescent font with powerful searchlights pointed at them.’

This comes after Pulse revealed last week that NHS England were offering £25 per patient for practices to take on patients as a result of the closure of the Eaton Place Surgery, and that NHS England had been accused by GP leaders of allowing smaller practices to fold.

Related images

  • Stop Practice Closures-logo-online-330

Readers' comments (15)

  • All part of the grand design

    Suck it up. This is what the profession deserves for allowing self serving politicians and so called "leaders" to take control.

    Doctors in the uk are robots controlled by higher powers. Get used to it.

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  • Once the domino effect starts and the rate of practice closures escalates the 'powers' may listen, but by then there will only be a few extremely large practices / companies left (probably >100,000 patients).

    Will GPs accept losing what little clinical autonomy is left and work on a salaried basis for huge corporate organisations for £60,000 per year?

    Many of our leaders will be happy to become Clinical Directors on £200,000 per year

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  • Vinci Ho

    ......What I got to do to be heard?
    What do I say when it's all over?
    Sorry seems to be the hardest word.

    It's sad, so sad
    It's a sad, sad situation.
    And it's getting more and more absurd.
    It's sad, so sad......

    As far as NHSE is concerned , it will never say Sorry.

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  • 7.13 you're right
    Our "leaders" will be protected in overpaid management jobs rather than doing the job they are trained for. The rest of us will be salaried drones, professionalism gone and working to rule . Really sad article .

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  • Unclear article.

    "Closing or merging": well, the two are totally different. Closing is generally a bad thing and represents a failure of some sort. Merging can be a bad thing (for the same reasons as closure) or can be a good thing (may be a positive choice for clinical or business reasons). Lumping the two together is statistical nonsense.

    Plus the headline is wrong. 500% increase does not relate to closure, it relates to "closure or merger". See para 1.

    "The figures also revealed that 78 practices have either closed completely or closed a branch surgery as a result of merger since April 2013" - OK, worth knowing, but again, doesn't mean much without further context. Say practice A merges with practice B. Did practice A have a branch surgery over the road from practice B? If so, the merger would naturally involve closure of the branch surgery, and this would probably be an overall benefit to the practices, not an indication of problems, as the article seems to imply.

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  • "Dr Robert Morley, chair of the GPC contracts and regulations subcommittee, says: ‘This writing has been on the wall for the best part of a couple of decades and is now painted in enormous bold capital letters in a fluorescent font with powerful searchlights pointed at them."

    For god's sake stop telling us what we know and start taking action against the govt you useless weasles.

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  • When general practice is gone it will be extremely difficult to revive . The patients will be the losers and corporations will make massive profits by replacing primary care with a cheap and vastly inferior service .

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  • THE DAILY NUTTER will be getting all "excited" and "foaming at the mouth".Rather than admitting their "criminal role" in undermining General Practice they will see this as another chance to prey on GPs and slag them off again.

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  • Who is going to be left to staff the private companies taking over?
    When "Hunt Medical Services LTD" advertises for GPs, there won't be any left

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  • presumably with merging the remaining staff can be protected under TUPE and employed, if the practice closes and the list is dispersed then the partners are responsible for redundancy payments

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