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Scores more practices plan for closure as at-risk tally hits 109

Exclusive Around 30 practices in London alone are under threat of closing, as a Pulse investigation reveals that the number of practices across the UK considering their future has reached more than 100.

More local leaders have come forward in the wake of Pulse’s investigation earlier this month – which found that 60 practices across the UK were under threat of closure – warning they have ‘not seen anything like this’ in 20 years.

The GPC has warned that a ‘perfect storm’ has led to ‘more and more practices considering their options’, including the withdrawal of MPIG, PMS reviews and the recruitment crisis

London is the worst affected region, but local leaders in Northamptonshire and Devon have also come forward warning they both have six practices under threat, while Doncaster, Leicestershire, Sunderland and Sussex LMCs have all reported practices are considering handing back contracts.

Pulse asked LMC leaders across the country how many practices had contacted them regarding the possibility of closing.

A spokesperson for Londonwide LMCs said ‘current indications are around 28-30.’

Dr Tony Grewal, medical secretary of Londonwide LMCs, said that the capital was particularly badly affected by MPIG.

He said: ‘NHS England (London) have explicitly stated that no money is available to support practices severely affected by the withdrawing of MPIG payments. They have offered organisational support to practices from within existing resources.’

‘Londonwide [LMCs] have made a number of other suggestions for their consideration, including temporary bridging payments to practices… and we are waiting for their considered response.’

Pulse has reported that Jubilee Practice in Tower Hamlets, east London, has already put a ‘red button date’ in place, which may see them having to close.

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Virginia Patania, practice manager, said that there was now a ‘very large campaign’ called Save Our Surgeries being led by the practice to highlight the potential of closures.

She said: ‘It’s something we are looking at in a way we have never look at before. Part of it is funding, part of it is recruitment. In Tower Hamlets a fair number of us, for a collection of reasons, would say our viability is severely limited over the next year or two.’

‘There’s definitely a view from NHS England that mergers are the way of the future. But you need to get to the future to consider this. No support has been given to practices in that transition.’

In Devon, LMC leader Dr Mark Sanford-Wood said: ‘In terms of closures, we haven’t seen any yet, but we have on our radar at least half a dozen practices we are very concerned about. It is highly likely that a good number will end up closing by the end of the year.’

‘I’ve been involved with the LMC for 20 years and I’ve never seen this before. For this to start happening now is significant.’

Dr Beth McCarron-Nash, GPC negotiator, told Pulse: ‘I am certainly hearing anecdotally about more and more practices considering their options. It’s a perfect storm of problems. Some of that is the contract imposition from 2013, some is from funding swings as a result of MPIG redistribution.

‘That, along with spiralling workload and increasing demand… is having a catastrophic effect on practices and are struggling to cope.’

Pic credit: James Cridland

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