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Another GP practice hands back contract amid pressures

Another GP practice has handed back its contract to NHS England, citing impossible workload demands that were ‘like climbing the Everest summit’.

Patients of the Bedford Square Medical Centre received letters from NHS England warning them their practice would close at the end of September, saying that it was ‘no longer suitable or sustainable as a GP practice’.

But Dr Dunia Al-Naemi, the only partner in the practice, said NHS England had ‘no interest’ in saving small single-handed practices.

She told the Camden New Journal: ‘Unfortunately, the NHS is falling apart due to shortage of funding, and this has reflected negatively on the morale of the profession. General practice now is increasingly dispiriting and has changed dramatically in the last few years.’

‘The current changes within the NHS are the ever-increasing demands, more meetings, more paperwork, which is like climbing the Everest summit, longer hours of work but less time for my patients as we are overstretched beyond our limits.’

She added: ‘The current climate is no more small surgeries as they cost the NHS a lot of money. The idea is to have mega-surgeries and in my view the small family practice will vanish in few years’ time. It will become like going to a big supermarket.’

The closure further highlights the strain placed personally on GPs, with Dr Al-Naemi saying she felt the workload left her ‘heading for burnout’.

She said: ‘We hear on the news that many doctors are retiring early, leaving the partnership, emigrating, and more surgeries are closing down. All I want to say to my patients is that I love you all and you will be staying in my heart and mind. I hope you forgive me for this as it was beyond my capability, and wish you the very best from the bottom of my heart.’

A patient of the surgery for 34 years wrote anonymously on the NHS Choices website: ‘We always received exemplary services from the current GP, the current nurse and the long serving practice manager. We’ve now joined another practice but were sorry to have to leave and we’d like to thank the GP and all the staff for the service they have provided for us over the years. We wish them all well in whatever they do next.’

A spokesperson for NHS England’s London area team said: ‘When Dr Al-Naemi informed us of her decision to resign in April 2014, we wrote to all patients on her behalf asking for their views on how they would like to receive GP services in the future. Their feedback was taken into account when making the decision to close the practice, along with a number of other factors such as the fact that the premises are no longer suitable or sustainable as a GP practice,’.

‘Throughout this process, our priority has been ensuring patients have access to high quality GP services, and that any disruption is kept to a minimum. We apologies for any inconvenience caused.’

Pulse has identified more than 100 practices across the country at imminent risk of closure via the ‘Stop Practice Closures’ campaign is calling on GPs to support them in petitioning for urgent funding to keep practices afloat.