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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)

  • No partners, no buildings for a lot of primary care services. HMG wont afford a buy out and imposing a salaried service but instead are strangling the life out of GP land so that partners give up close the door and are forced to sell up. Who can afford to buy it all up?- You guessed it -private health companies who have many Lords, Ladies and MPs whjo rank amoungst theri shareholder and boadr members. The conservatives get a substantial amount of donations from the private healthcare industry.

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  • I'm sorry angry about HMG and them screwing us my typing above was very naff!

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  • Any other union would have us all out with placards, shouting "scab!" at the district nurses. Come on BMA, sort it out!!!!!

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  • if primary care implodes I don't think the private sector will be interested - they do not have a positive track record being involved. I would however put money on local hospitals running practices.

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  • anonymous 2.39
    where are the finanacially struggling hospital trusts going to get the money to buy the buildings and employ the staff to run a GP service?

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  • I say let it collapse.

    people don;'t appreciate what they have until its gone.

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  • anonymous at 12.35
    "There is no divine right for a partner to earn more than a salaried GP."
    If you read the article it says the partners are taking NO drawings, unlike the salaried doctors, presumably to keep the salaried doctors in work and the patients with access to medical advice. I think that's pretty altruistic and should be praised if not recommended.
    Whilst I agree with you about business risk, GP businesses are working in a rigged market with a sole customer but unlimited (indeed whipped-up) demand, ie they take the risk for the NHS but with their hands tied. Working for a health provider gives protection but I think many more partners will decide the risk, work and abuse isn't worth t and will resign in the next year or so and maore practices will collapse. C***-up or conspiracy?

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  • MY VIEW----->
    BLAME THE DAILY MAIL
    BLAME THE DAILY MAIL
    BLAME THE DAILY MAIL
    BLAME THE DAILY MAIL
    BLAME THE DAILY MAIL
    RUN BY GREEDY MULTI-MILLIONAIRES WHO "PREY" ON PUBLIC ANXIETIES.
    A "DESPICABLE AND DEPRAVED" RAG OF A NEWSPAPER

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  • Anon 12:35

    Contrary to what you pretend to be, you clearly have not worked outside of nhs.

    I don't know of any business owners who expects to earn less then their enjoyed staff long term. They may take less drawing for short term for long term gain but only because they predict situation well improve in the near future. Otherwise why be a business owner? Commercial business do not continue if there is no adequate profit, regardless of if their client may need their service to survive. Charities may be different but I wouldn't call them business and in fact charitable trusts are governed by different law.

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  • The hidden agenda is privatisation . It would straight forward to repair primary care and the fact that it is not being done gives the game away . If the Tories are re-elected kiss the NHS goodbye.

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