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Riots force closures in one in seven London GP practices

GP practices across the country had to close early yesterday due to riots and civil disturbances, with hundreds closing in the capital alone.

NHS London said today that some 218 practices in London closed early yesterday, and five cancelled extended hours surgeries, out of around 1,500 practices in total. In most cases practices closed in the afternoon, around two hours early. A further 45 pharmacies and 29 community services, including sexual health clinics, also closed early.

As the violence spread to cities including Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Salford and Wolverhampton, GP practices outside the capital also closed earlier to avoid being targeted.

In Birmingham, which saw some of the worst looting and rioting yesterday, the walk-in centre on the High Street had to close three hours earlier than usual, at 4pm instead of 7pm. The practice, which is based in Boots, has seen a reduction in patients coming into the clinic today.

Meanwhile in Manchester, the Pall Mall Medical Centre, near Piccadilly Gardens and situated opposite shops which were looted, closed an hour earlier yesterday. The Batley & Bissett surgery on St John Street sent staff home early, while Sefton Park Medical Centre in Liverpool closed twenty minutes earlier than usual.

Manchester GP Dr Martin Seely, whose practice is six miles away from the city centre and was unaffected by the unrest, told Pulse he saw the disturbances first-hand.

'I got caught up in the rioting when I was in the city yesterday afternoon,' he said. 'I hadn't heard about the violence in Manchester so I was caught unaware by it. We couldn't see up the road and police were diverting us away from the city centre.'

Today most GP practices were running as normal, and practices in the capital have been advised by Londonwide LMCs and NHS London to open as usual, unless advised by the police.

NHS London medical director Dr Andy Mitchell said: ‘Our priority has been to guarantee that effective services remain in place for the sick and most vulnerable, while ensuring staff safety. We have achieved this so far. We expect to continue business as usual.'