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At the heart of general practice since 1960

More than 500 practices at risk of closure, says RCGP chair

More than 500 practices in England could close within a year because of a ‘deepening crisis’ in the recruitment and retention of GPs, the RCGP has said as it calls for a ‘rescue package’ for general practice.

In addition 1,000 GPs a year will be leaving the profession by 2020 unless ‘urgent action’ is taken, with 22% of GPs in London alone saying they expect to step back from patient care within five years, the RCGP has revealed ahead of its conference in Liverpool today.

The warning echoes Pulse’s own call for action through its ‘Stop Practice Closures’ campaign which it launched after learning that more than 100 practices across the UK had either closed or were actively considering closing as a result of funding cuts and a recruitment crisis.

The college, GPs and health leaders – including health secretary Jeremy Hunt – have lent their support to the campaign which is calling for emergency funding for struggling practices and a parliamentary debate on the issue.

The college identified 543 practices that is facing closure in England - potentially rising to 600 across the UK - largely by looking at workforce and recruitment trends which show the number of vacancies has quadrupled in the last three years.

It found that more than 90% of doctors at these practices are over the age of 60.

In her speech to the RCGP conference today, chair Dr Maureen Baker will argue that if practices continue to close, displaced patients will turn to A&E and swamp other parts of the NHS.

She will demand a rescue package for general practice that includes ‘cutting back on the bureaucracy’ that currently prevents qualified GPs from returning to work after a career break, and ‘specific incentives to encourage more doctors into deprived areas’, that are currently under-doctored.

Dr Baker will say: ‘Every practice closed is a loss to a local community. Not only do patients lose out, but it piles more pressure on neighbouring practices, swelling patient lists already bursting at the seams.’

‘Today I can reveal new estimates from the College that 543 practices in England are at risk of closure if something isn’t done

‘There are practices that have over 90% of GPs over the age of 60, when the average retirement age of GPs is 59 - this is shocking.’

‘Colleagues, the wall of the dam – the service of general practice – is under huge pressure and unless urgent action in taken to repair and restore the dam, it could burst with terrible consequences for our patients in general practice and indeed for the whole of the NHS.’

 

Related images

  • Dr Maureen Baker


Readers' comments (22)

  • Why is it whenever we put out these warnings the public seems to think that these lazy fat cats are protecting their own self interests?When the GP earnings start to get published countering this prejudice is going to get even more difficult.

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  • Vinci Ho

    I think this is a reasonable response to what Cameron said last two days in his conference. At least , it is on BBC news this morning .
    Clearly, if one thinks carefully on reading these things , it is a slap on the face to the seven days opening .

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  • Here's a Daily Mail comment on the subject:

    "We are now seeing the true effect of when Labour caved in to their wage demand which included rewards way above what they were asking, it didn't take long before many went part time and then took on lucrative earners on the side"

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2777236/GP-retirement-rush-shut-500-surgeries-Warning-patients-travel-waiting-times-increase-hundreds-work-year.html#comments

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  • This is a crisis of the colleges own making. Revalidation is forcing people into early retirement and wasting literally days of clinical time whilst the disastrous CSA exam has limited the arrival of replacements. You couldn't make it up!

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  • There are many ways in which the college has contributed to this issue, educational dogma, revalidation etc

    However that ignores the full frontal assault on the entire medical profession over the last 10 years. Hospital medicine is fragmented with inexperienced consultants struggling and we're following that path.

    RCGP and BMA need to wake up to this attack, stop producing or sponsoring data which can be used to attack us. If people want to attack us, let them get the ammo why are manking and passing it onto them!

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  • ONLY at risk of closing, NOT closing, hence don't worry, As always more talks and NO action by RCGP, no one takes them seriously now.

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  • The GMC is responsible for revalidation. . The CSA sets a standard that the GMC failed to do with PLAB.

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  • Bob Hodges

    The REAL problem is that NOBODY wants to a be a GP anymore, not even us GPs.

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  • Here's the paradox:encouraging more doctors to go into GP will only prolong and worsen the misery for those who are already in it.The government will continue dumping more nonsensical targets knowing full well there will always be sufficient GPs to take the extra load without funding to match.And so around and around we will go.The only thing that will make the public appreciate the value of primary care is if they're confronted by a real crisis:ie:GP closures on a MASSIVE scale throughout the country...and that ain't gonna happen.So like Sisyphus we'll keep rolling the stone up the hill.

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  • good for those 500, what about the other practices? we are all struggling with recruitment, retention, poor premises, low morale, really challenging decisions about staffing, sessions, drawings

    emergency funding is a sticking plaster for the lucky few but the whole profession is under threat

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