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Independents' Day

One in 20 GPs considering closing their practice by spring 2015

GPs are being forced to consider extreme measures in order to ensure their practices survive the next six months, a Pulse survey reveals

One in 20 GPs is considering closing their practice by next spring, in the latest indication of the drastic measures the profession is planning to survive.

A Pulse survey of 564 GPs found 5% were considering handing their contracts back to NHS England within six months. 

Some 13% said they could not see their practices remaining viable beyond the next two years. One in 10 (12%) said they were considering applying for a temporary list closure, while 15% are thinking of shrinking their practice boundaries.

And many GPs admitted having to make staff cutbacks to stave off closure, with 16% considering redundancies among their administrative staff and 13% thinking of making cuts among clinical staff in the next six months.

GP leaders told Pulse the survey results were ‘sadly, all too common’ and that any emergency package for general practice may come too late for GPs who are at the ‘end of their tether’.

Data lowdown - December inforgraphic

Campaign continues

The figures come as Pulse continues to push for emergency support for struggling practices, as part of its ‘Stop Practice Closures’ ampaign.

The RCGP said in October that more than 500 practices in England could close within a year because of a ‘deepening crisis’ in GP recruitment and retention.

GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey said the results showed a reality that was ‘all too common now’. He said: ‘They reflect the growing workload pressures and real stresses that GPs are under. And it’s not a surprise that many GPs have reached the end of their tether.

‘The NHS Five Year Forward View was talking about stability of funding in the next two years and increased investment in primary care in the next five years. We need to see that much, much more quickly.’

Dr Agnelo Fernandes, a GP partner in Croydon, south London, said he would be handing his contract back because of a ‘serious loss of funding’.

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Readers' comments (10)

  • The current Contract is becoming impossible with decreased funding for more work, leading to half pay per item [ ie reduced from £ 80 {2005} for 4 consults to £60 for 6, so a 50% pay cut]. It is also impossible in time - I did 2 13 hour 15 minute days back to back, just to keep in touch with workload.
    Patients are waiting longer and longer for appointments. It is not their problem that we are seeing 40+ patients a day, that we see 92% of consults on 8% of the budget etc.
    Our GMS Contract specifies timely appointments, which we are not providing. So, we are not fulfilling our Contract !! We need to move to a new Contract, where payment is for workload eg appointments provided. If we do not change, next year and each year thereafter we will have to see more and more patients, which is impossible.
    I do not think the GPC realises how nearly impossible the Contract already is and that is why GPs will not join and those that are here are leaving.

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  • GP's have taken a battering but without them, we have no NHS.
    It is time the government bodies left GP's to do what they do best, to care for the sick.

    Roll on the next election ....

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  • No seems to care. Our colleagues in hospital also seem oblivious. Will only come to a head when GP land collapses. There hasn't been a country in the history of mankind that hasn't completely economically collapsed with the debts that UK plc has. We are effectively trading insolvent. Those that can are getting out due to poor working conditions. Wonder what will happen if the country cannot afford to pay teachers, police officers, nurses and so on. Even NHS pensions (government backed) could be at risk. Asking the government for more money isn't going to work when we are already seen as privileged. A Plan B anyone? How about co-payments?

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  • Una Coales. Retired NHS GP.

    @2:08 pm well summarised.

    @2:12pm I used to think the government would at some point consider copayments so the poor and elderly would still be offered some public state care but realised that they are not. In all likelihood, they may be swapping over to an entirely private system of healthcare, ie not even consider semiprivate; all private where one that does not even offer the poor or elderly any state subsidised care. Why? It dawned on me, this national £1.39 TRILLION public debt may well change the shape of how this country operates (already students are responsible for loans to cover the entire tuition of £9k per year and maintenance of up to £7k/year) and indeed, scrap much of 'public' state run bodies like teachers, police, nurses, doctors etc.

    When the Far East was in debt, they reduced state involvement and increased privatisation, in other words, the government let go of running public sectors and turned them into privately owned and privately run businesses, Oliver Letwin and economists' solution to an incredibly huge national deficit and as Letwin had said to me, we are one step away from Greece.

    Funny how Brits live with their heads in the sand. The reason why newly qualified university students cannot find work, may well have something to do with a HUGE public deficit? And the fact that banks are clamping down and refusing mortgages or loans to people unless you have a huge asset for them to reclaim if the loan defaults.

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  • Una Coales. Retired NHS GP.

    Case in point. If Ryan Air had a debt of £1.39 trillion, the owner may well tell his staff they would be making cuts, called efficiency savings of £20 billion between 2011 and 2014, in other words make staff fly double the amount of routes for half pay. However when that was not enough, he might well say we have to lay off some of you, those on employment contracts will be performance managed, reviewed and scrutinised annually and need to reapply for your job or you may choose to just quit but don't expect any compensation. Those on zero hour contracts don't get paid compensation if we dump you anyway. This again may well not be enough to cover the £1.39 TRILLION or 1000 £BILLION so he could finally say to the public, we simply can't afford budget pricing anymore, and it is now pay full commercial airline prices or we go bust. We have already taken out loo facilities, tv facilities, added charges for food and drink, charged for any extra we can think of, charged for all bums on seats whether it be a child or elderly passenger.

    Do you see the owner offering subsidised seats to the poor and elderly? I think not. I think this is how the government will eventually see healthcare, as not their responsibility or headache to finance and manage, abused and overused by the voting public as a free service in exchange for votes, but sell it off to private businesses with free rein to charge patients just like airlines and hotels do. This way the NHS is finally freed from being bandied about like a political football. The state quits the football pitch.

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  • 3.21

    Wonder if it is a natural cycle. Post war welfare perhaps was an experinment and an illusion Politicians bribed voters by borrowing for future generations to pay. This sort of worked in the short term until the bond markets realise they won't get their money back. As interest rates rise, debt spiral, boom. Perhaps this is a natural cyclic event for democracies. Politicans need the votes of the poor who cannot afford healthcare, countries borrow to pay for this and then go bust...

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  • What a load of nonsense is being written about govt debt!
    It is not the same as household debt. It is just money borrowed from rich Brits at low rates and even then the interest is taxed , to build infrastructure and make the economy grow.
    The rich benefit from the roads etc and get their money back , win win for everyone. In 1945 when the country was broke , Labour borrowed massively to start the welfare state and we have all become a lot richer as a result.
    It will do the same in six months ,health spending will rise , people will get healed and get back to work.

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  • £72 for six consultations, or £12 for each of which £4 goes to staff, £4 on overheads , £4 to the GP of which he pays £2 in tax.
    At £3 a consultation take home , is there any wonder no one wants to become a GP partner now ?

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  • Dr mohindra sums it well. But we get 55k and pay bout 20 out so take home about 30k for 4 days and 2000 patients each
    We are all thinking of selling to a private company and get pay of 70k plus pension for a 9 session week

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