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GP practice closures will worsen urgent care crisis, warn emergency medicine doctors

The increasing number of GP practice closures is exacerbating an ongoing crisis in urgent and emergency care, according to emergency medicine doctors.

Dr Clifford Mann, president of the College of Emergency Medicine, has lent his organisation’s support to Pulse’s Stop Practice Closures campaign, saying it recognises the ‘enormous importance of high-quality primary care to both planned and unscheduled care’.

He added: ‘The closure of practices will badly affect the access for patients, especially the elderly and those with poor mobility.’

‘It will also accentuate the current crisis in urgent care and worsen the situation in crowded A&E departments.’

‘Consequently, it is imperative that the situation is reviewed immediately and the vital skills of general practice are adequately funded and supported.’

Pulse launched its campaign after revealing that more than 100 practices across the UK had either closed or were actively considering closing, as a result of funding cuts and a recruitment crisis.

Former GPC negotiatior Dr Peter Holden told Pulse that he – along with GPC chair Chaand Nagpaul and GPC Wales chair Charlotte Jones – had met with the College of Emergency Medicine to discuss the escalating healthcare crises in primary and emergency care.

He said: ‘It’s obvious that this is about a whole system of care. They know and we know that we’re all just running full tilt to stand still. We have got to stop these closures.’

‘The current policy of the DH and NHS England is to make propositions to GPs that they know are emotional blackmail and are not fully costed or reimbursed. It’s at the root of where surgery closures are coming from.’

‘If surgeries close, there are fewer GP appointments and it puts more pressure on everything else, because it will overspill to A&E. This is not a money-saving exercise, and MPS and the people should be made aware of what is happening.’

The College of Emergency Medicine is the latest organisation to lend its support publicly to Pulse’s Stop Practices Closures campaign. Other high-profile organisations backing the campaign include the BMA, RCGP, Royal College of Nursing, National Alliance of Primary Care, NHS Alliance, Unite and the Family and Dispensing Doctors Associations.

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