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Independents' Day

More than 500 GP practices have closed in last five years, 'stark' Government figures reveal

More than 500 GP practices have closed since 2009/10, the Government has admitted, in what GPC has described as a ‘stark’ indication of the crisis facing general practice.

Health minister Dr Dan Poulter revealed in Parliament that the number of practices closing has increased dramatically since 2010, when 79 practices closed, compared with 2014, which has already seen 78 practices closing up to 31 August.

Overall, 518 practices have closed in the period, including 126 in 2013 and 124 in 2012.

Dr Poulter provided the figures in response to a question from Edmonton MP Andy Love, who had asked about closures in England, London and in his constituency area of Enfield, London. Mr Love has also given his support to Pulse’s Stop Practice Closures campaign.

The figures showed that in the same time period, 110 practices opened, meaning there was just one new opening to every five closures. This year to date, there have been nine new practice openings.

Pulse has reported this year that LMC leaders had been approached by more than 100 practices who were considering closing due to reduction in funding and recruitment problems, and as a result started the Stop Practice Closures campaign.

The new figures also seems at odds with figures provided by NHS England in response to a freedom of information request by Pulse, which revealed that 99 practices had closed in the past four years.

Dr Poulter emphasised that these latest figures ‘also include practice mergers and takeovers and do not provide an accurate representation of activity or service provision’, adding: ‘In many cases, practices listed in these figures as having closed, will have in fact merged and will continue to see patients.’

An NHS England spokesperson reiterated the position, adding: ‘NHS England aims to ensure that all patients will be able to register with a GP.’

But GPC negotiator Dr Beth McCarron-Nash said: ‘It is stark. I think that general practice is in crisis and need urgent negotiated solutions and obviously we continue to lobby NHS England and the Department of Health to address the fundamental problems that GPs are facing.’

‘There has been no premises investment since 2004, there is constant change to the NHS, including the hand grenade that has been the Health and Social Care Act, a disinvestment in GP practice, a disinvestment in the contract and the fact that they have not had a national workforce strategy to actually solve the fact that over 25% of GPs are over the age of 50, and that along with the catastrophic changes to the NHS pensions scheme.’

‘I think all of this is a perfect storm for a GP to say “listen, I’ve had enough”, and the other thing I’ve missed off the list is the increasing levels of bureaucracy, such as the CQC etc.’

Please note: this article was changed at 11:56 on 11 September 2014 to reflect that there was one opening every five closures, not one every 21


Practice closures and openings 2009-14
 EnglandNHS London areaEnfield Clinical Commissioning Group area
2014 (to 31 August)78914430
Source: House of Commons Hansard



Readers' comments (37)

  • Blame The Daily Mail (one of Jeremy Hunt's "Henchmen" and "enforcers"), Jeremy Hunt (for his "political thuggery") and The DOH for "complicity" in bullying and thuggery. They created this mess and have let down the general public.
    Hunt should now do the honourable thing and RESIGN, just go Hunt.
    Maybe they will give you a job in Scotland ? (not)

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  • I fully agree with 9.40am.
    Trouble is The Daily Mail is "in too deep" with Tory Chums to now be honest with the electorate.
    This is what the CIA call "blowback".....unintended extreme consequences of certain interventions.

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  • This will be answered in the media with yet more "politically violent attacks" on GPs to cover up for the real blame-which is the "malicious failure of the government to face the facts".
    Hunt will be on the phone as we speak to his "dinner party friends" at The Daily Mail.

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  • I think the Scots decision to part ways may be to a great extent dictated by their reluctance to tow the UK govt's line on NHS services.

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  • 'one new opening to every 21 closures'?
    Surely one new opening to every 5 closures

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  • This has been changed now - thanks for pointing this out

  • I have just resigned, and NHSEng have just closed our 2 rural branch surgeries. Even now, the local, public anger is directed at the "bad GPs" rather than the underfunding and recruiting problems which led to this desperate and unhappy act. Why will no-one accept that State-funded Healthcare is expensive but cheaper than the alternative. (which is a re-do of Winston Churchill's famous quote about democracy being better than the alternatives). The international stats for NHS funding as percentage of GDP are still dreadful. Wake up Daily Mail readers.. this is your country, and anything you don't like is your own fault.

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  • I fully agree with comment at 10.38 - I too resigned from my practice (a semi-rural 2 branch surgery) 2 months ago and am now very happy working as a locum. NHSE have given contract to a private provider on APMS costing taxpayer much more for a much inferior service (they employ locums hence pts see a different dr everytime) - still it was all our fault for leaving the leaving the surgery which led me to a near nervous break-down. This society is spoilt and need a reality check - sadly it will never come from politicans whose existence depends on the votes from society hence the blame will always be with doctors/hospitals etc.

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  • The way NHS is running ,enforcing cheaper but not so cost effective medications doctors for their mistakes in enforcing usage of medicines against Evidence based,like sulphonyureas as shown by Prof Anthony Barnet: when quoting Diabetologia,sponsored by DVLA he states Sulphonyureas lowers sugar like Insulin in the first three years;restricting GPs prescription of Glucose testing strips;National health makes all GPs walk the plank.This why young GPs qualify and move to Australia and New Zealand and older GPs resign to avoid this quicksand created by NHS

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  • Get the Daily Mail to apply for an APMS contract? After all they are geniuses! replace all the GP simpletons with Daily Mail journalists. Anyway, as we are all "scum", why would anybody be angry if we close practices to make way for "real doctors"??

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  • In my area 6 practices all closed and moved into one all singing all dancing fit for purpose health centre. Are these figures included?? (6 closed - 1 opened) I believe we are witnessing, once again, the dreaded scaremongering tactics to panic the masses. Lots of GP's are against "Tory (Mail)" privatisation, but a hell of a lot of them are looking to maximise personal income through selling out their GMS contracts to large "Private" Health companies for personal financial gain. Talk about pot and kettle!! Everyone in the country recognises that the NHS is just not affordable, but no one has the courage to take it face on for fear of losing votes so instead there are lots of behind the scenes scheming going on in order to undermine the whole system whilst placing the blame firmly on the shoulders of others, namely in this case the nasty GP's. The Titanic was Unsinkable, the NHS???? Man the lifeboats, GP's and children first!!

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