The growth in list sizes has accelerated with the average GP practice counting 169 more patients compared to just eight months ago.
Figures released today by the Health and Social Care Information Centre showed that average practice list size increased by 2.3% from the end of April 2015 to the end of December.
Pulse’s analysis of the figures show that should this trend continue, the year on year growth rate would be 3.5% – even greater than the 2.8% growth recorded during 2014/15.
The HSCIC statistics show a drop in GP practice numbers combined with a 0.9% increase in the total number of patients registered with a GP across England.
While practice mergers may be partly responsible for these trends, practice closures are also increasing and the data also show a drop in practice numbers – there are currently 1.36% fewer practices than in April 2015.
Birmingham LMC executive secretary and GPC contracts and regulations subcommittee chair Dr Robert Morley said: ’This comes as absolutely no surprise and is extremely worrying.
’Whilst some of the increase may be due to practice mergers, much is due to the accelerating number of practice closures, with list dispersals and patient displacements putting surrounding practices under even greater pressure and leading to a domino effect.’
Pulse has already reported on a further 25,000 patients set to lose their GP practice due to closure in 2016, while an earlier analysis revealed that over 160,000 patients had to re-register elsewhere due to closures in the two years leading up to April 2015.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health has mandated NHS England to ensure new ‘at scale’ models of general practice covers half of England’s population by 2020.