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Revealed: Sixty GP practices across the country facing imminent closure

Exclusive Around 60 practices across the UK are facing imminent closure due to issues over funding and recruiting staff, Pulse has learnt.

In a measure of the recruitment crisis and funding squeeze facing the profession, local GP leaders have warned that they are witnessing an increase in the number of practices considering giving up their contracts altogether.

Pulse surveyed 25 local GP leaders from across the UK, and found that 60 practices were either notifying their patients about their closure or were in talks about relinquishing their contract.

The leaders of local medical committees (LMCs) or GPC representatives told Pulse that they fighting to keep practices open, but were facing a ‘slow train crash’.

They also cited the ‘domino effect’ that would occur if practices were allowed to close and large numbers of patients had to be reallocated to other neighbouring practices.

The BMA warned in May that practices were ‘imploding’ with the pressure on them, and that was leading to many being at risk of closure.

The survey found:

  • In Gloucestershire, three practices are under imminent threat of closure with GPs at one taking home no pay at all.
  • Six practices in Hampshire have been in discussions with LMC representatives about relinquishing their contracts.
  • One practice in Oxfordshire has closed this week because it could not afford the running costs, another is due to close due to a lack of investment in premises.
  • In Wales, four practices are closing imminently, and a further 10 are considering doing so due to recruitment problems.

Gloucestershire  LMC chair Dr Philip Fielding said: ‘We’re working with the area team and CCG to find a way of keeping them viable, and also to keep planning succession.

‘In one practice, the partners are taking no drawings. They are retired in terms of the NHS pensions, but they’re staying on for nothing to look for a successor. In another practice, the salaried doctors are earning more than the partner. It’s inherently unstable - it’s like trying to stop a slow train crash.’

Dr Charlotte Jones, chair of Wales GPC, said: ‘We have a number of surgeries in Wales that are in the process of terminating their contracts. There are examples in both urban areas and rural areas - one in Neath Port Talbot, one is Powys. One example is Dr Julie Lethbridge and Partners in Neath. It comes down to their inability to recruit partners - and remaining partners can’t cope. Even the good ones have difficulty recruiting, and it causes a domino effect.’

In Essex, there are similar problems with recruitment. Dr Brian Balmer, chair of Essex LMC, said that there were two that were under threat. He said: ‘It’s because they can’t recruit. The key reasons so far are the changes in finance and that people are leaving for various reasons - retirement etc. - and they can’t recruit.’

In Oxfordshire, NHS England has said it is closing the Wootton Surgery on 31 August because its premises was not fit for purpose. It said:  ‘The surgery, which only opened for five hours per week, would have needed considerable investment to bring it up to the standards required by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).’

Dr Robert Morley, executive secretary of Birmingham LMC, said there were two practices that had closed in his region. He added: ‘We’re going to see more and more of this. The only way to safeguard the profession and safeguard these practices is for partners to merge.’

Last year, an FOI request by Pulse revealed that 99 practices had closed between 2010 and 2013.

Readers' comments (61)

  • Vinci Ho

    Make sure your facts are validated because DoH and NHSE will accuse you guys 'scaremongering' again !
    Please support the march on 5/7 , this Saturday in East London , organised by Tower Hamlets Keep Our NHS Public......

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  • Surely this should be headline news??

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  • Hunt could not give a s***.
    He believes in "market forces".
    Well, maybe he should warn the public about the effect of such "market forces"

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  • the practice in bristol that is closing made the BBC this morning, same reasons, lack of funds and not being able to recruit.

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  • Colleagues, it's the 4 R's

    Resources, retirement, resignation, relocation

    The first won't be taken seriously until all of us start to follow through on the others. Don't delay, make plans today

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  • @above
    add in a 5th "retention"

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  • There is no divine right for a partner to earn more than a salaried GP. If you are a partner that's the risk you take, its what you sign up for. If it was any other type of business there would be no sympathy for the owners/partners to be earning less than its salaried workforce. Why should healthcare think itself any different? There are other options than partnership. Certainly if a salaried job pays more why would I want the hassle of partnership anyway!

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  • 6th R: Rsoles to it all

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  • Anonymous @ 12.35pm
    When there are no GP partners left and no NHS General Practice who will be employing you.
    Backdoor privatisation is coming and that is the hidden agenda.The Whitehall bean counters have done the sums, figured the NHS is becoming unaffordable and privatisation is the way out of the blackhole. No politicians will have the balls to explain that one to the public.

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  • anon 12.35 - of course it is not a "right" - but any sensible business "partner" will wonder why to go on if this is the situation...and are better off being salaried as well.

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