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​600 GP practices at risk of closure, says RCGP

Around 600 practices are at risk of closure by 2020 due to problems recruiting GPs, the RCGP has claimed.

These practices all have at least 75% of their GPs aged 55 and over, the college says, which will lead to a shortfall of almost 10,000 GPs across the UK within four years.

It comes as the RCGP has launched a new video campaign aimed at foundation doctors, medical students and sixth-form students.

The campaign is designed to show that general practice is ‘exciting and challenging’, and address the myth that ‘the role of a GP is somehow run-of-the-mill, with family doctors simply treating coughs and colds’.

The RCGP says that patient safety is at risk unless the recruitment issues are addressed.

Pulse has – through its Stop Practice Closures campaign – reported that a number of practices have closed as a result of being unable to recruit GPs.

Last week, partners at an 18,000-patient practice in Oxfordshire announced they were handing their contract back after failing to recruit enough GPs to remain open.

The RCGP’s analysis of official figures concluded that by 2020 there will be a shortfall of 8,371 GPs in England, 830 in Scotland, 424 in Wales and 316 in Northern Ireland due to the prevalence of GPs over the age of 55 and an increasing number of early retirements.

It said that in response, it is ‘launching a ground-breaking new video and guide’.

A statement from the college said: ‘[We hope] that the video and guide will explode the myth perpetuated by TV programmes like Casualty, Holby City and 24 Hours in A&E that only doctors who work in hospital settings have an exciting and challenging role.

‘Another falsehood that the video and guide – both called Think GP – will try to address is the idea that circulates in certain parts of the medical world that that the role of a GP is somehow run-of-the-mill, with family doctors simply treating coughs and colds.’

It follows the failed Health Education England video campaign last year, which featured a GP signing off forms for a patient to go skydiving.

Already the RCGP’s video – which follows GPs around a series of settings, including a rural GP, a prison GP and an academic GP – has been better received than HEE’s campaign.

RCGP chair Dr Maureen Baker said: ‘It is imperative that we recruit huge numbers of medical students and foundation doctors into general practice in order to keep the NHS on its feet. If we fail, there will be too few GPs to go round, practices will close, and patient safety in general practice will clearly be at risk.

‘Despite the fact that general practice is critical to the success of the NHS, there is a bizarre misconception in certain parts of the medical world that GPs merely treat coughs and colds.

‘However, our Think GP video and guide explode this dangerous myth by showing that family doctors are expert medical generalists who have to manage and understand chronic long-term conditions and deliver the continuing care that our most complex of patients need.’

Readers' comments (32)

  • The T & C s are just not good enough for the amount of stress involved.You can dress up a dogs dinner to make it look any better, Its still a dogs dinner.

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  • I must protest at anonymous GP Partner bringing Dogs Dinners into disrepute - on behalf of this vital animal food industry I'd like it to be known that dogs dinners play a vital role in the British economy - Hands off Dogs Dinners!!!!

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  • OK Felix, how about; "you cant polish a turd". Please dont tell me you are passionate about turds?

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  • General practice -Forward view (blinkers on ) - is certainly an attempt at Turd Varnishing. Still difficult to disguise the smell though.

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  • T+Cs need to be fixed then videos will not be needed.

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  • Can we not, as a temporary measure, recruit GPs from the EU Single Market while we are still in it? Please hurry as we shall be chucked out before long!

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  • Surely it is not 600 practices at risk? As these practices hand back contracts either the list is dispersed or tendered. APMS providers rarely provide the same level of service and patient satisfaction (at an increased cost) leading many to look at registering elsewhere. In either scenario, other local practices are likely to see swelling numbers, increasing workload etcetc. If anywhere near 600 partnerships were to go it would be the collapse of General Practice in most likelihood as the dominoes fall.

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  • I retired at just 64 (older than many), am off the register and obviously doing no medical work. With such a shortage of doctors what a waste that no-one I know who has retired remains on the GMC register to help out as necessary. One can only take so much of pointless annual appraisals, care quality commission, NHS England, health and safety, infection control, potential complaints etc and an army of people telling you how to do your job. Thank God for the NHS pension scheme and life after medicine.

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  • Sadly the younger generation have been well and truly screwed over with the NHS pension.With a lifetime limit, double taxation etc.T&C a lot poorer for our JDs.

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  • Improve the pay, improve the working conditions, lessen the constant denigration. Guess what no video needed.

    I do think that it's going to get a lot worse before it ever gets better.

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  • Mo - sounds a bit low to me. I'd say by about 8k.

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  • I can't really encourage anyone to be a GP Partner in this country at the moment. We all know the problems and pressures involved. If the conditions improve then recruitment will rise. This happened in 2004 when General Practice was enjoyable and rewarding.

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  • Does anybody give a toss? What does a reduction from 12 to 7% of NHS funding share mean?
    No body gives a damn.

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  • Showing videos to lure youngsters into GP would be fine if you were showing them the stark truth. Even a monkey will look through if you wave an artificial banana. More important, it is deceit because you are showing only the bright and glamorous side but the hidden stress and pressures that gps and their families have to go through with a rampant bullying culture at all levels in NHS is not clarified. It's an ad after all and Maureen Baker has done a good ad.

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  • It's a sign of the times . Unfortunately the sign says "Get out now if you can . "

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  • Anonymous | GP Partner19 Sep 2016 10:32am

    OK Felix, how about; "you cant polish a turd". Please dont tell me you are passionate about turds?

    You can polish a turd as I learn at recent dinosaur fossil exhibition..........

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  • Vinci Ho

    Last year advert was politically naive and this one is more realistic , at least addressing the crisis . But the truth is nobody dares to point finger to the politicians who are fundamentally , the culprit of all these. Maureen certainly has learnt the lesson from ' no better times to be a GP'. Having said that , RCGP is still an establishment yet to come down to earth.....

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  • what's wrong with being in a 'run of the mill' job anyway? I dont want an exciting job, I just want my life back
    #youcan'tpolishaturd

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  • The anon GP Partner at 2.37 pm makes an excellent point.

    It is rather sad that the video is selling the virtues of being a portfolio GP....so it's basically saying the only way to survive is to get out of the coal face!

    Unless stress and workload at the coalface is addressed (through increased recruitment as a result of better T&Cs), nothing will bring them back.

    As someone pointed out earlier - we didn't need glossy brochures and videos in 2005, did we?

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  • Pay them and they will come. But even if they did come there are not enough trainers left . Wir sind Ubergefucht .

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  • simple simon and runt are a national disaster and disgrace
    ?why have this useless utterly incompetent pair of weapons of mass nhs destruction not been SACKED?
    their failures are in the hundreds........
    both continue to cause massive damage to health care and it is simply unacceptable...especially as all the changes in the past 6 years have been done in the absence of a mandate..now we hear the STP plans were already mooted in 2013 but delayed till 2016 as it was clear if they told the electorate the election would not have been won by Cameron.
    I despair at our utterly pathetic political system of allegedly corrupt serial liars.

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  • It's really very simple - PAY MORE - then advertise GP as a job that gives you lots of money to have holidays away from being a GP - let's be honest - we do see lots of coughs and colds

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  • RCGP is as clever as fox.it is responsible for creating this mess.It is a political move by RCGP.

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  • 600 sounds remarkably low
    As a former CCG Chair with 2 practices out of 10 returning contracts I suspect the real number is much bigger and predict that more will have returned contracts in 2 years time

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  • Complaints. Litigation. CQC. Targets. Pension sabotage. Massive Indemnity costs. Revalidation pressures. Falling income. Dismal family life. General practice is not a career. Just a tough and miserable existence for those who wanted to make a difference. You just try and survive the week. Then as it worsens you just try and get through each day and then each hour by hour.

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  • Why will any want to be a GP when you have to deal with 80% shit and 20% clinical stuff.Even a clerk can issue sick notes,refer patients to hospitals.People chose being GP because it was good money and less work. There is nothing else exciting about being a GP.

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  • Took Early Retirement

    600 by 2020? If she means by twenty past eight this evening, she might be right.

    Yes, you can present people with a bucket of faeces, you can paint it any colour you like, but it is still a bucket of faeces.

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  • alleged junior doctor 715
    your entire comment is respectfully absurd and betrays complete lack of knowledge of gp's role..though I agree with the political interference by management idiots..just as bad in hospital.

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  • I hope we will still get out pensions when the NHS is forced to collapse?

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  • OK then..BMA/RCGP..this is a genuine national emergency which requires radical action NOW!..This needs screaming from the rooftops and both should be publically demanding urgent talks with hunt and stevens at once.

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  • This comment has been removed by the moderator.

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  • The Conservative Government has both starved the NHS of funds and made General Medical Practice look terribly unattractive so that fewer GPs are being trained. Try scouring the EU Single Market (and elsewhere) for GPs while we still can. It was mistake leaving the EU because the single market has undreamed of riches.

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