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Independents' Day

One in five London practices could close, warn LMCs

Almost one million people in London could lose their GP in the next three years, an LMC survey of GP practices in the capital has shown.

Londonwide LMCs, which received responses from 644 of London’s 1,330 GP practices, found that one in five (20%) cannot rule out handing back their contracts.

Out of these, 19 practices - which together cover 116,491 patients - said they are planning closure within the next three years, while a further 20 practices said they were considering closing within three years.

The number of patients who face losing their GP rises to over 900,000 when those respondents who said they ‘could not rule it out’ were included, according to Londonwide LMCs calculations.

The boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea and Barnet are worst affected, and may lose five and four practices respectively, said the LMCs.

Other survey findings included:

  • 199 practices (31%) have a GP vacancy, including 50 with a current partner vacancy;
  • When including all staff groups, half (49%) of practices have a vacancy;
  • On average, salaried and partner GP vacancies have gone unfilled for eight months;
  • 44% of practices (248) have GPs planning on retiring in the next three years;
  • Among practices planning closure, 62% struggle with unfilled vacancies.

Asked why they think filling vacancies is so difficult, half of London GP practices said it was due to financial uncertainty about the future of the general practice model was the reason. They also pointed to low morale within the GP profession (45%), pay (43%) and a lack of suitable candidates (41%).

In order to cope with their situation, 13% of practices said they were considering reducing services.

Michelle Drage, chief executive of Londonwide LMCs, said: ’Half our practices are short of a member of staff, a third are missing at least one GP and 128 practices, covering over 900,000 patients can’t rule out handing back the keys within three years.’

According to Dr Drage, ‘hero GPs [are] working flat out to cover the gaps’ but they are now at breaking point and urgently need ’more resource and more support… before it is too late’.

She further questioned the Government’s pledge for 5,000 more GPs in England by 2020, saying: ’With junior doctors increasingly reluctant to take on the challenges of general practice, and many leaving the country in the face of the new contracting debacle, London’s general practice future looks decidedly gloomy, delivering current service with fewer staff is unsustainable and unsafe in the long term. Let alone for extended seven day services.

‘Until financial stability is secured and the low morale of existing staff is improved there is little prospect of the junior doctors currently coming through the ranks being the saviours. The oft-quoted influx of 5000 new GPs seem less and less likely with every day that passes.’

Patients losing GP practices across England

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Copy of Stop Practice Closures-logo-online-330

The number of patients being displaced by surgery closures rose by 50% last year, with 200,000 patients in 2015 forced to register with a new GP or travel further to see their existing GP, a recent Pulse investigation revealed.

At the special LMC conference last month, GP leaders voted in favour of canvassing the profession on mass resignations unless the Government agrees a rescue plan for general practice with the GPC within six month.

Pulse has highlighted the increasing numbers of practices closing and their impact through its Stop Practice Closures campaign.

Last week, over 100 GPs signed a letter to Prime Minister David Cameron, published by Pulse, warning him that general practice is now unsafe for patients.

Readers' comments (12)

  • It is likely to be a similar problem across the country. or worse?

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  • Vinci Ho

    Certainly , some other parts of the country are worse but as the Capital of the country , this situation is only indicative of shame and shamble of this government(many foreign friends only knew one city called London when we talked about England!!)While one can argue polls like You Gov are pretty c**p , especially after last general election, it currently showed that 65% people thought the health secretary was c**p and only 17% thought he was good. This was worse than Corbyn(but he is not in the Cabinet!!). But obviously , being good or bad very much depends on whether one presumed his primary 'duty' was to maintain NHS or destroy NHS .
    Personally think it was aborrhent and repugnant for him to wear the NHS pin on his lapel all the time .
    Recommend him to read tales about what samurai would do to themselves when they dishonour their emperor in feudal Japan......

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  • Enough talk of "may" or "could". Until practices collapse all over the country, lists close and the leafy suburb-dwelling middle class can't register with a GP (and, shock horror, house prices fall in these areas), then things will just rumble on. GPs who battle on with the writing on the wall are not helping the rest of us by limping on.

    Ditch the Contract, Comrades.

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  • I visit practice's all over the country for a living (no I don't work for CQC!!).

    My impression actually is that things are slightly better inside the M25 than elsewhere - there are at least young doctors who want to work in London and the city has a good number of junior doctors.

    The really desperate situations are on the coast. I know that Blackpool, the Yorkshire Coast and the Hull/ Grimsby conurbation get publicity (and things are pretty awful in these areas) but towns where one would not expect problems (like Brighton or on the Isle of White) will face 'primary care collapse' if just a fraction of the doctors due to retire actually do so.

    Very difficult to understand how the DOH does not grasp the magnitude of the problem. The Welsh and Scottish governments are at least acknowledging the implications of the current situation.

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  • Do not trust LMC ever. They are all part of CCG and hunt promoting 7 days and privatising of NHS.
    They are promoting Jeremy by promoting federation. They are trying to create fear among GPs by telling them that;
    Pct is coming back
    If you don,t join federation you won't exist.
    Saying that federation will protect them from cqc.
    Please do not join federation and do not underestimate yourselves.
    Trust no body but you.
    Beware of CCG, lmc and federations.drs who are unable to take patient responsibility, are doing admin jobs. Shame on them.
    Drs are life savers. But we have to learn how to save ourselves.

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  • "TDo not trust LMC ever. They are all part of CCG and hunt promoting 7 days and privatising of NHS "

    It certainly isn't true.

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  • This comment has been moderated.

  • @ above,

    Have you heard of a little thing call FREEDOM OF SPEECH?

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  • "Michelle Drage | Other GP16 Feb 2016 11:11am

    "TDo not trust LMC ever. They are all part of CCG and hunt promoting 7 days and privatising of NHS "

    I think that could be libelous Ms/Mr/Dr Anonymous Practice Manager. It certainly isn't true."

    Michelle, I am not the practice manager @ 8.04pm, I do not know who that is, but my experience is that he/she is correct. Over many many years my LMC has often acted like a mouthpiece for HA/PCT/CCG and can not be relied upon to support GPs interests over those of the current version of the health authority. At times I have wondered if they have forgotten who is paying their wages.

    I am glad for you Michelle that your experience of an LMC is different. But some of us have very poor experience of, and no faith in, our LMC.

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  • What is London LMC doing to prevent closure of these surgeries?
    Have you sent emails to these surgeries to help them?
    Have you sent letter to CCG to support these surgeries to protect patient care?
    Do you have any plan? Or you just want to scare patients that they will have no GP in few years? aAqq
    What are you guys going to do?
    Carry on playing golf with CCG? Or will you challenge your friends? Or are you in a position to challenge NHS england?
    Just spreading rumours about closing surgeries won't help patients or your colleagues. If you really care about patients or your Colleagues please do something. What if there was no pulse today website!
    If you want drs to trust LMC, please do something.

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  • until it actually happens it means nothing.

    if it does happen patient's will just move surgery - i.e. no big deal.

    only matters if patient's have no surgery or lists are closed until then it has zero impact.

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