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Independents' Day

Ministers admit there is 'an issue about practice closures'

Health ministers have vowed to meet with MPs concerned about a vast number of practice closures in their areas, after admitting there was an ‘issue about the closure of GP surgeries’.

Speaking at the first Parliamentary debate on health since the Conservative Party won a majority vote in the general election last month, the new ministerial line-up promised that general practice was at the top of their agenda for the next Parliament and promised to meet with MPs and visit practices.

It comes as Pulse has revealed that 160,000 patients were displaced as a result of practice closures in the first two years after the NHS reforms.

In the debate, Islington South and Finsbury MP Emily Thornberry asked health secretary Jeremy Hunt whether he could ‘wait a moment’ to consider the GP surgeries closing because partners were resigning, in response to Mr Hunt’s pledge to introduce a seven-day GP service.

Ms Thornberry said there were ‘three GP surgeries closing because our GPs have all resigned’, and asked whether he will ‘meet a group of inner-London MPs in order to talk about our grave concerns about the changes to funding and the lack of resources available’.

The health secretary said he would meet with the MPs, adding that ‘underfunding of general practice has been a historical problem’ which ‘is something that we want to put right.’

He also admitted the Government has to ‘deal with the issue of burnout’ because ‘many GPs are working very hard’.

But he said it was ‘also the case that we need to raise standards in general practice’, saying the ‘Ofsted-style’ CQC ratings brought in with the last Government would be ‘good in the long run for GPs as well’.

Meanwhile responding to a direct question from another north London MP, new health minister Alistair Burt agreed that ‘there is an issue about the closure of GP surgeries’.

Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn Tulip Siddiq had raised concern that a GP practics closure in her constituency would mean that ‘over 1,000 patients will have to go elsewhere to seek basic primary care’.

Health minister Alistair Burt said: ‘There is an issue about closure of GPs surgeries, they happen from time to time, and as my right honourable friend has said there is going to be an opportunity to meet with inner London MPs to discuss this.’

During the debate, Mr Burt also claimed to have a special soft spot for GPs, because his 93-year old father was also in the profession.

He said: ‘Can I thank him and all other GPs for their devotion to their practice and for looking after people as well as they have done.

‘They are a vital part of the service and I will be keen and rather soft on GPs and want to see them enjoy their profession as much as my father has enjoyed his.’

Mr Burt, the Conservative MP for north east Bedfordshire, was appointed minister of state for community and social care at the Department of Health last month.

Pulse has been highlighting the effects of practice closures as part of the Stop Practice Closures campaign, which has sought to support practices that are struggling.

Readers' comments (17)

  • Pulse articles helpfully and powerfully reveal more than the Government want us and the nation to know.
    More ministers or MPs with an inkling of what it is to be a GP and the sacrifices made may shield the noble profession from such future batterings.

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  • "But he said it was ‘also the case that we need to raise standards in general practice’"

    How is this a valid response to the question about surgeries closing? Once more the boot?

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  • cue funding for corporations to set up apms practices with single salaried GPs and lots of non-GP 'clinical' staff.
    We have invested more. (the profits are going up all the time) the patients are getting more unwell. Compliance with CQC, and other 'standards' will increase, problem solved.

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  • Took Early Retirement

    But hang on: was it not only about yesterday, literally, that the DoH said that there wasn't an issue as "surgeries closed and merged all the time"?

    All praise and full credit to Pulse for keeping this on the boil. It has finally been taken up by 3 national newspapers.

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  • 'Nodody bothers to plow on a barren land .But everybody fights for it once somebody started plowing' . A Hong Kong saying.
    Politics is like fashion sometimes. The hot political subject (apart from Sepp Blatter)is shortage of GPs and GP surgery closure. Every 'hot headed' politicians would want to chip in , jump onto the bandwagon .

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  • Vinci Ho

    That was me

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  • The collapse in take home pay , due to stealth tax increases , pension contributions is what is causing the problem.
    Doubt any GP takes home £40k after taxes.

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  • things are getting interesting but on the ground patients are still getting seen. heads will turn i.e. the press will take an interest when patients can't be seen - the scenario when there is no local practice fullstop.

    nhse / ccgs are going to pressure practices to absorb patients - some are going to see this as an opportunity but be aware - GPS are thin on the ground so expanding without staff is a very bad idea. other practices are going to struggle with resultant stress / sickness.

    Also HEE approach of pushing GP trainees through will fail as things are getting harder so you arguably need the brightest and dedicated GPS more than ever to cope with increasing complex demands and higher risk - experienced GPs are key. No disrespect to the youngsters but General Practice is not for the squeamish - don't do it for money (it's running out), respect or an easy life - we are back to the 1980s but worse - a bad mistake now and you will be in jail !

    It's fascinating watching primary care disintegrate right in front of your eyes!

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  • I think primary care is like a bouncy castle when the compressor is now turned off that pumped more air(gps) into it, its slowly going down and is becoming gradually less fun to play on until all that will be left will be a empty shell that will be neither use or ornament.

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  • attended PMS contract review today. NHS England sent an intermediary to present their case! when asked re contingency planning-there is none! says it all we are looking at 75k reduction in funding in 2 full time equivalent practice. Angry doesn't really cover it. come on BMA action is needed now

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