GP leaders have called for extra funding for practices in Plymouth as they work ‘on the edge of viability’.
This comes after it was revealed that a fifth of practices in Plymouth have either closed or handed back their contract in the past three years, leaving 34,000 patients without a fixed GP.
Dr Mark Sanford-Wood, deputy chair of the BMA’s GP committee, said: ‘NHS England has a very simple choice: it either provides extra funding so that we can keep the service running, or they don’t and the service collapses.’
A BBC report revealed that a former partner of Ocean Health, a 22,000 patient practice that closed its patient list last year, was forced to complete CQC paperwork while undergoing chemotherapy because of workload pressures.
Dr Rachel Tyler said: ‘I was diagnosed with cancer and had to go on long-term sick to have treatment.
‘I was typing up my CQC presentation in the process of having chemotherapy. I was doing that on an oncology ward so I could come in the following week.’
Responding to the report, Dr Sanford-Wood, who is also a GP in Devon, said: ‘The situation in Plymouth may be particularly intense, but it should be seen as a warning of what the rest of the country faces without urgent action to address the pressures in general practice.’
He added: ‘The current funding settlement in general practice means most practices are operating on the edge of viability, and unless more is done by the government and NHS England – which includes addressing the severe recruitment and retention crisis – we are likely to soon see a repeat of the scenes in Plymouth across the country.’