More GP organisations are rallying behind Pulse’s campaign to support struggling practices on the brink of closure, following the BMA’s and RCGP’s endorsement.
The Family Doctor Association, the National Association of Primary Care and the Dispensing Doctors Association have all signed up to the Stop Practice Closures campaign.
The NAPC has said the campaign as a ‘springboard’ to fight for an end to NHS England’s ‘unnecessary and unhelpful’ funding reviews in order to ‘reinvigorate’ general practice, and make it a desirable profession for trainees.
This comes after Pulse showed that scores of practices are on the brink of closure, with seasoned GP leaders saying they have never seen the profession under so much pressure.
The looming closures are the result of a ‘perfect storm’ of problems with falling funding, swingeing cuts to MPIG and PMS funding, spiralling workload and ‘deeply concerning’ figures from education authorities showing there is no appetite amongst trainees to bolster the beleaguered GP workforce.
Pulse will now take the campaign to ministers and lobby them for emergency support for practices facing closure, and afford them breathing space to restructure and protect their patient lists.
Pulse has launched an e-petition in order to bring the issue to a parliamentary debate andd will lead urgent talks on sustainable funding for general practice and boosting morale of beleaguered GPs.
FDA chair Dr Peter Swinyard said: ‘The FDA fully supports any action which can support practices in providing excellence in care to their patients, with good continuity of care being the hallmark of modern traditional family practice, proven to increase patient satisfaction and reduce health care costs.’
‘The perfect storm of reduced resources, expensive locum cover (my practice had recently to pay £1000 for a day’s cover) and impossibility of recruitment even to desirable practices is threatening the whole future of general practice in the UK. The domino effect is becoming a reality. If a neighbouring practice closes due to impossibility of recruitment, how will neighbouring practices recruit to service the patients allocated to them?’
Chair of the NAPC, Dr Charles Alessi told Pulse: ‘As a springboard, we support the campaign as part of something bigger. The bigger thing is the whole issue of a fundamental review of primary care. We need a review of the whole of the out of hospital sector, we need to reinvigorate primary care, so it’s not the place to leave, it’s the place to go and work in.’
Dr Alessi added: ‘Our stance as an organisation is that we see the need for urgent action from NHS England to actively stop what is a completely unnecessary and unhelpful set of reviews which are taking place around primary care.’
Chief executive of the Dispensing Doctors Association Matthew Isom explained that patients in dispensing practices, often in rural areas hit by MPIG cuts, rarely had an alternative surgery to fall back on.
Mr Isom told Pulse: ‘The DDA fully supports the Stop Practice Closures Campaign. Rural dispensing practices, particularly in Scotland, are disproportionately affected by reductions in their funding.’
‘In addition, the current drug reimbursement system is squeezing the income from dispensing, which subsidises the provision of rural general practice services. Unlike urban areas, rural patients cannot just move to the next practice because this can often be many miles away.’