This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

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
 ClosedOpenedClosedOpenedClosedOpened
20107955122100
20111111921601
20121241431470
20131261339520
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)

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • 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.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • 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.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • 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.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

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

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • 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.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • 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.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • 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

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • 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"??

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • 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!!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Peter Swinyard

    It was the case that 11%+ of the NHS cake went into primary care.
    It is now 7.5% (just over 8% if you include all prescribing costs)
    It is the case that we in general practice are expected to do ever more with ever less.
    The pips are squeaking and those who can get out are getting out.
    The main incentives for staying are vocational, not logical or businesslike.
    Only for so long can NHSE rely on the vocational nature of our profession. I fail to identify the workforce planning to cope with the retirement demographic bulge over the next 5 years or the impossibility of recruiting even in some quite pleasant areas.
    I think that politicians and bureaucrats alike are having violin lessons while general practice is alight. They are hoping that the crash comes on someone else's watch.
    But we have long memories....

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Bob Hodges

    "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)"

    Daily Mail Time!! Hurrah!

    'Practices' are not 'buildings', they are groups of doctors holding a contract and having a list of patients. Putting them in the same building is not the same as 'merging' practices.

    These statistic are also able to tell the difference between a merger and a closure - even NHS England can do this.

    By the way, the fact that doctors moving into new building is such a rare event should tell you something if you think about it.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Peter Swinyard

    incidentally, in reply to 11.00am, GMS (or PMS) GPs cannot "sell out" their GMS contracts for personal financial gain as they cannot legally sell the goodwill of a practice. They CAN sell the goodwill attached to enhanced services, rather bizarrely, if they can find a buyer.....

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • 11am NHS Manager.
    kettle and black pot comment. If GPs are seeing their business (and vocation) going down the pan, why not allow a private provider to take over, the situation will only end in the same way.....under-funding, closure of practice, lack of continuity owing to reliance on locums.
    If the public wants to 'comsume' the NHS like they do on the high street , then it needs to pay more for its' wants, and accept its' actual needs are not healthcare costs to be borne by the taxpayer!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • a lot of branch surgeries in rural areas were opened to get dispensing income and are now unaffordable.

    Surely Pulse is not campaigning to keep every surgery open

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • This comment has been deleted

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • @10:38: It is a pity that ordinary people do not see that the GPs are not fault. Anger directed at the GP?
    One would have expected at least some understanding for GPs predicament from the local populace after years of hard work by the individual if not appreciation. Alas, this could seem a thankless job.
    Don't lose heart Doc - for every one that is moaning against the GP there surely are another 5 who do appreciate your effort and devotion. It's just that the happy ones don't voice their opinions.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • NHS Manager | 11 September 2014 11:00am
    Obviously NHS managers are as clueless to progressive primary care policy as HSE (Irish) management.
    Larger practices lead to erosion of continuity of care resulting in poorer outcomes http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/33/9/1680 … Personalised care is superior to corporate care with regards to patient satisfaction, reduced unnecessary admissions and general care.
    Corporate care is superior to traditional GP on bureaucratic criteria only, but is much more expensive and a/w poorer outcomes in the long run.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • GP Partner 1:22pm.
    I didn't say it was a larger practice, i said that 6 Practices have moved into one building. They are still individual practices providing "personalised" care to their Patient Lists. I was commenting about how statistics can lie ie in our case 6 closed but only one opened. Actually 6 didn't close but moved into 1 shared premises.
    Always a problem when someone misinterprets and then makes it personal!!

    Not sure your word clueless is appropriate in this context but I'll use it anyway. "Clueless!"

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Ivan Benett

    In Central Manchester we have gone down from 42 to 35 practices in 2 years. This has been due to practice mergers and retiring GPs> There's nothing sinister about it. The issue isn't the number of practices, but are they able to attract the workforce. So long as Pulse and other journals fill their collumns with moaning GPs it's hardly a surprise that younger doctors don't want to join them. Every advert I see says 'friendly team' but the reality is not bourne out by their interview experiences.
    I'm sure anonynous commentators will rage against these views, but really we have to sell ourselves if we want a wokforce, not denigrate our vocation.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • This comment has been moderated.

View results 10 results per page20 results per page50 results per page

Have your say