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Over 750 practices across UK could close as GPs leave profession, warns RCGP

Over 750 practices could close within the next five years because they are relying on GPs approaching retirement, the RCGP has warned.

The college fears that this would have a ‘catastrophic impact’ on general practice and patient care, with more than 2.5m patients in England being forced to change practices if these closures occur.

The RCGP chair called for promises such as 5,000 extra GPs to be fulfilled, as well as an additional £2.5bn a year for GPs in the NHS long-term-plan.

The analysis, published by the college today, found that 762 practices across the UK are relying on a workforce where three-quarters of GPs are aged over 55 and therefore approaching retirement age.

This puts them at risk of closure as these GPs retire, if the practices cannot find suitable replacements.

Broken down by nation, this equates to 625 practices in England, 71 in Scotland, 37 in Wales and 29 in Northern Ireland.

The RCGP explained that in England alone, this would lead to 2.5 million patients needing to change practice, with the five worst-affected CCGs being Sandwell and West Birmingham (85,105 patients), Medway (52,330), Havering (49,761), Ealing (46,909) and Wigan Borough (43,640).

RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said: ‘Many GPs are bringing forward their retirement plans because the pressures they are working under are untenable.

‘It is a massive loss to the profession – and patients - to lose our most experienced doctors prematurely when they have huge amounts of knowledge and skill.’

Professor Stokes-Lampard said these potential practices closures would have a ‘catastrophic impact’ on the general practice and patient care. In response, GPs ‘urgently need to see existing promises of investment for general practice, 5,000 more GPs, and 5,000 more members of the wider practice team delivered’, with ‘equivalent promises’ in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

She added: ‘We also need to see an additional £2.5bn a year for general practice as part of the NHS long-term plan, to ensure that existing GPs and their teams are given the support and resources they need.’

The BMA said earlier this year that general practice was in 'critical condition' and that without an increase in Government funding, more than 600 GP practices will close in England.

Readers' comments (16)

  • THANKS "DAILY NUTTER"....YOU MUST HAVE A VENDETTA AGAINST THE GENERAL PUBLIC.

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  • About 50% of my GP workload is due to external derived inefficiencies or poor practice that, due to the UK legal, funding, cqc and gmc regulatory system, I cannot ignore and have to deal with once I know about it.

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  • Don’t worry folks, Push Doctor and Noctors with save the day.

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  • As a last man standing and over 56 , I hear that NHS England or “ putting more money in than ever” and “ training more GP’s”.....I don’t know who advises NHS England, but they really haven’t a clue.

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  • well im 50 and approaching retirement not 55

    in an area of no recruitment. ex partner.

    the RCGP must join the roll call of shame with unfair regulators and parasite lawyers which have helped my decision not to go beyond 55

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  • Yawn.
    We all know what will fix this.
    For all of you looking for alternatives, NHS England is advertising some choice jobs for £70,000 which any senior doctor with an educational background would be eligible for but without the stress.
    Equally The faculty of medical management and leadership is apparently looking for coaches for a programme which offers £1000 for 3 x 1 hr coaching sessions with GP managers. Who is paying for this? I think the whole NHS landscape is very very skewed at the moment.

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  • "The BMA said earlier this year that general practice was in 'critical condition' and that without an increase in Government funding, more than 600 GP practices will close in England."
    No! Really? We didn't know that, thanks for telling us.
    Now, dearies, BMA GPC and RCGP tell us what you are going to do about it, other than sitting on your hands.
    Is it not time we emulate our nurses? They started a petition against the Royal College of Nurses for the dismal way it handled their pay negotiations and in the last 24 hours they took a hit at the RCN Council with a historic No Confidence vote. But then, nurses have something GPs haven't got (my legal adviser stopped me from spelling it out).

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  • Jones the Tie

    only 750?? seems a bit low :o)

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  • I have made to 55.5 years and just retired.No longer exposing myself to the spiraling out of control stress levels and risk to my own well being has been the best decision I have ever made.
    My concern is for those who are unable to release themselves from this vice we call a profession?

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  • My heart goes to those trapped, unable to leave the country or profession.

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