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One in five practices burdened by local closures

Exclusive One in five practices has suffered from the ‘ripple effect’ caused by the closure of a nearby practice in the past 12 months, a Pulse survey has revealed.

The Pulse survey of 602 GPs revealed that 20% have been struggling with sudden influxes of patients from nearby practice closures, often without forewarning, leading to more stress, list closures, and patient access crises.

GP leaders warned that the ‘ripple effect’ caused by practices closing have left neighouring practices ‘unsustainable’, and there could be ‘dire consequences’ for patients if there is not adequate support for practices to stop them closing.

This comes after a Pulse investigation uncovered over 100 GP practices that had closed or were at risk of closure, caused by a range of issues from MPIG withdrawal, PMS reviews and the GP recruitment crisis, which resulted in Pulse starting the ‘Stop Practice Closures’ campaign.

More recently, a Pulse survey revealed that one in 20 practices were considering closing by spring 2015.

Dr Asim Malik, a GP in Milton Keynes said: ‘Four or five surgeries have closed within an 8-10 mile radius in Milton Keynes.

‘There is a patient access crisis in this town because no one applies for the posts advertised and patient lists have been redistributed by surname not geography. Some families living in the same home have been sent to different practices.’

Dr Chris Kenyon, a GP in Oxford, said that after a neighbouring practice closed, his practice received 1,000 new patients.

He said: ‘We have not had any increase in doctor sessions or funding for our ancillary services such as physiotherapy, so our funding per patient is down and workload up.’

GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘As practices close, the pressures on neighbouring practices has the potential for a ripple effect where further practices, who are already having difficulty coping, become unsustainable.

‘This is a phenomenon affecting practices up and down the country, because ultimately general practice has an inadequate work force, inadequate premises, and a demand that exceeds their capacity. The priority must be to enable practices to remain open.’

Survey results

Has your practice been affected by a practice closing near you in the past 12 months?

Yes: 121 (20%)

No: 432 (72%)

Don’t know: 49 (8%)

The survey launched on 31 October 2014, collating responses using the SurveyMonkey tool. The 31 questions covered a wide range of GP topics, to avoid selection bias on one issue. The survey was advertised to readers via our website and email newsletter, with a prize draw for a Samsung HD TV as an incentive to complete the survey. Some 602 GPs answered these questions.