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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)

  • Those GPs who should have 'retired long ago' have stayed on and faced the continuing pile of poo that rains down on them from government , patients expectation and now their own collegues- they need our support and thanks. Yes some may not have been up to the 'standard' of what the newbie 'go getters' HMG brown nosers want but they were building primary care when some of us were reading Beano under the sheets with a torch.
    I for one salute them and may Dr IB re-read and feel shame at his comments

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  • Ivan,

    I suggest you read the following extract from GMC guidance

    Respect for colleagues
    15. Good medical practice says that doctors must treat colleagues fairly and with respect.* This covers all situations and all forms of interaction and communication. You must not bully, harass or make gratuitous, unsubstantiated or unsustainable comments about individuals online.
    16. When interacting with or commenting about individuals or organisations online, you should be aware that postings online are subject to the same laws of copyright and defamation† as written or verbal communications, whether they are made in a personal or professional capacity.‡

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  • 11am says the NHS is not affordable. Hmm.
    In UK and most developed countries, the health systems are considerably more cost-effective than the alternatives. If everyone who got sick either became a burden to their family or died, where would our economy be? If the state didn't look after our old people and our very young, economically active adults would take time out of the workplace to look after them. A more modern example from USA, Kaiser Permanente, has been able to put figures on this - the construction company Kaiser created a healthcare arm for its own staff - simply because it is more profitable to provide good healthcare and keep people working than to leave people to suffer.
    NHS comes top in the 2014 Commonwealth Fund survey of health systems in developing nations (and has come near the top in each of the last x surveys).
    Yes I know it's underfunded compared with need. What I'm saying is that it is cost-effective and valuable, and if we put even more money in, it would still be cost-effective and valuable. To cut funding is short-sighted.
    As for GP practices - Teisberg & Porter (2004) demonstrated in a very simple chart that USA states with a GP-led system were much lower cost and at the same time much higher quality of care (patient outcomes) than USA states with a hospital-led system. So USA is trying to be like UK NHS. Why are we trying to be like USA - beats me?

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  • In regards to Ivan's comments;


    1) 'In fact we've only lost single handed, aging GPs who mostly should have retired a long time ago.' - a lot of us thanks to the bankers have got to work on to 70. So I'm curious as to the age of the GPs you are refering to?

    2) 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. Many of us call a spade a spade and are not puppets on strings. It is only fair that the younger generation are aware of what is actually going on and not what is spun by our 'leaders'.

    3) Every advert I see says 'friendly team' but the reality is not bourne out by their interview experiences. I agree with you on that one.


    4) 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. Being a doctor is fantastic .... just not in the UK.

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  • Ivan
    I also notice that you are listed as a salaried GP. You therefore do not have the same legal and financial responsibility for running a practice as a partner. If it is all so wonderful, why are you not a partner?

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  • Anonymous | GP Partner | 12 September 2014 4:06pm

    Ivan is a partner in Whalley Range in Manchester. I believe he's on the CCG board, which makes his comments even more unprofessional.

    There is a case here for his removal from the CCG.

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  • If he is on the CCG board, does that mean that other GPs in Manchester voted him in?
    I would be interested to hear from other GPs locally what they think of Ivan's ideas ( but not personal comments about him!)

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