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GP leaders renew calls for funding as Plymouth practices ‘on the edge of viability’



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.’