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Independents' Day

BMA warns of patient impact amid another spate of GP practice closures

A spate of practice closures and mergers around the UK has once again highlighted the underfunding and workforce shortages facing GP surgeries.

The BMA warned that practices having to hand back contracts was becoming increasingly problematic for patients having to travel further to access general practice.

In Llanelli, Wales, the partners of an 8,000-patient practice have announced they will be handing back their contract to the health board this summer.

Patients are being urged by the health board not to try and register with other practices with health officials working to get a plan in place for Ash Grove Medical Centre over the next six months.

In Fermanagh in Northern Ireland, a town beset by practice closures over the past year, another three practices are merging into one after the retirement of two more doctors.

Over 18 months, practices in Fermanagh have reduced by more than half raising concerns about the sustainability of rural health services in the country.

The latest merger covers a geographical area 20 miles wide although a letter to patients said medical services would be provided from all three sites.

In Croydon patients expressed their dismay after being told by GPs that the Coulsden Medical Practice would be closing in the near future.

NHS Croydon CCG said they were aware of the situation at the 3,600-patient practice and that they were committed to working ‘to ensure that all registered patients have access to the best possible GP services in Croydon’.

And in Swindon, councillors have warned that the closure of a branch surgery in Nythe will leave elderly patients stranded and unable to easily access a GP 20 minutes walk or two bus rides away.

NHS Swindon CCG said the 1,950 patients who usually attended the Nythe branch surgery 'could also attend the main site'.

The CCG also said they were working with the practice to try and solve the transport issue.

BMA GP committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: 'The pressures on general practice from a decade of underfunding and subsequent workforce crisis is impacting practices across the UK.

'For some this has pushed them to the brink and resulted in them handing back their contract and closing the practice.

'This is having an increasing impact on patients who are left without a local GP practice and have to travel much further to access a service. It's clear evidence of why we need significant recurrent investment to be made in to general practice as soon as possible.'



Readers' comments (14)

  • David Banner

    Like a slow motion car crash, the dominoes start to topple. The Cassandras amongst us have long predicted this collapse of the partnership model, when will the media take notice?

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  • The corner shop model is dead. Helloooo supermarkets.

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  • This is absolutely a slow motion crash, working at scale is probably the answer, lip service is paid but no tangible support for those who put themselves on the line financially, reputationally and professionally by merging and trying to build an innovative workforce that tries to meet the needs of patients with fewer GP;s as we cant get any. then CQC comes along with no concept of how much there is to merging practices whilst running a live service and without any additional financial or managerial support and tells you you are not doing it well enough. the fact there would be no service at all if you hadn't tried merging is missed and all involved feel gutted and like there is no point any more. patients will suffer through this feckless and inept system's neglect of a profession willing to work like no other and there will be no getting it back when its gone.....

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  • Why is this not more newsworthy? If A&Es are stuffed, its on national news. If nothing else, the effect on our beloved hospitals should be recognised.
    I give up.
    Well not quite. I’ll still keep going on about it probably.

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  • Dentists had the sense to escape into private practice. Unfortunately the BMA is more interested in looking after the NHS than looking after it's members.

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  • Council of Despair

    I'n not sure that this is an issue - yet.

    My local practice is one of three that has been closed - out of curiosity I didn't register at any of the local practices and was automatatically placed at another quite good local practice.

    The point is this - the issue is patient access and as long as patient's have access to a GP it it not a concern to them.

    There is no loyalty - sure my existing practice had great GPs but so does my new practice. I don't see many of the public falling over themselves to keep their practice open but change the UK passport colour and see the anger.

    Until we reach the point that patients have no practice access at all then it is not an issue for the public.

    The argument of being far from a practice would be true for post-office closures, local shops closing etc which already happens and people have adjusted.

    As a locum I've worked at practices which were forced to take patients from other practices that closed and the patients just moaned and took their frustrations out on the practice staff of the new practice. You see they have been told that GPs handle the budget via CCGs so see closures as our fault.

    So the best thing that could happen is the case where patients have no service at all - it is at that point they will take their frustrations out on their local MP.

    I would sit back and enjoy the closures.

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  • End of the line?

    Good luck with Home visits
    covering a larger area...
    Can't come in ...
    Request home visit

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  • Took Early Retirement

    It's fun watching this in the early spring sunshine and 19C on the deck of a cruise ship in Warnemuende. Sooooo glad I left early!

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  • Best thing to do when you get complaints about this fiasco,give the patient the contact details of your local MP.let them answer the reasons why.

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  • Unfortunately in Fermanagh, we have an abstentionist MP, no functional local government and no political oversight so we have been left all alone to manage the mess that healthcare has become in our area,
    Politicians have walked away en masse from having any responsibility for the shambles that passes as local healthcare governance, our waiting times have become things of legend with no real access to the majority of secondary care services here.

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