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#GPnews: GP closures data fail to reveal whole picture

15:09 The BMA has also reacted to the latest Commonwealth Fund report, which says the UK has the health system with the ‘highest performance compared to spending’ out of 11 countries analysed.

BMA chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul also rightly pointed out that the NHS was one of the worst funded, out of the countries looked at, which also included the US, Switzerland, France and Germany.

He said: ‘This report provides clear evidence that the NHS is one of the top-performing healthcare systems in the world, and the most cost-effective in this study.

‘We need to make sure our NHS is protected, invested in and maintained, especially as a combination of rising patient demand, staff shortages and falling funding is seeing the health service reach breaking point. These pressures may be a factor in why the NHS has scored lower in the report’s comparison of health outcomes.

‘However, the study also shows the UK to be one of the worst funded health systems. It is unfortunate that funding for public health and social care has been drastically cut, with large chunks of funding set aside for “sustainability and transformation” in England being used to plug holes in hospital finances, and with local decision makers being told to find billions of pounds of efficiency savings.

‘To ensure we stay at the top, as well as improve health outcomes, the NHS needs an end to the short-termism that has plagued the delivery of health care for too long and the government to agree a long-term, credible plan to deliver the fully funded and supported NHS that staff want and patients deserve.’

12:49 Unbelievably, everybody and their Nan seem to be reacting to these dodgy GP closures data. For acting GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey it is a demonstration of a ‘service is at breaking point’.

To be fair to RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, she admits the data are ‘not clear’, but then goes onto say that closures ‘have severe consequences for our patients and the wider NHS’. I guess you should never miss a PR opportunity. Full statements here and here.

11:15 Hospital provider representatives have reacted to yesterday’s news of negligence claims costs against English NHS trusts rising dramatically.

As we reported in yesterday’s liveblog, there was an additional £132m paid out last year compared with the year before.

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: ‘We cannot go on like this with the NHS spending more and more on litigation. We now have fewer claims but we are paying more to claimant’s lawyers in legal fees – that went up 19% last year to nearly £500m.

‘What is more the decision by the last Lord Chancellor to change the way compensation claims are calculated is about to make the costs even higher.

‘The Office for Budget Responsibility has estimated that this decision alone will cost the public sector an extra £1.2bn a year. According to one report, as a result an NHS trust saw the cost of one claim go from under £4m to more than £9m.

‘It seems madness that we are now paying out sums greater than almost any other country in the world, when we have a universal, government funded system of healthcare.’

It comes as we report today that nine in ten GPs would like their indemnity costs to be covered by the NHS going forward.

09:45  NHS Digital has released data on GP practice openings and closures/mergers in England over the past year, but it is almost impossible to say what they mean.

According to these data, there were just eight practices opened and 202 closures or mergers between 1 July last year and 30 June this year.

This comes as there were 55,178 more registered patients on 1 July 2017 compared to (58,437,363) 1 June 2017, and 2,427,526 more registered patients on 1 July 2017 compared to (56,065,015 ) 1 July 2013.

But since the publication does not break down how many practices merged but remained opened, or if any premises at all have been closed or any patients displaced at all, they are all a bit meaningless. Not helpful, when this is an important issue.

If you want a more robust analysis of the number of closures then click here. If you must read the NHS Digital data, they are available here.