Practices struggling to keep afloat should be allocated emergency funding to help them survive, urges a major campaign launched by Pulse that has the backing of the BMA, the RCGP and many of the leading names in the profession.
The ‘Stop Practice Closures’ campaign is being launched as a result of the Pulse investigation that revealed that LMC leaders are warning of a dire situation in scores of practices across the country, with nearly 100 practices facing imminent closure and more expected to follow.
The BMA and the RCGP have lent their support to the campaign, which complements the BMA’s current ‘Your GP Cares’ campaign, and the RCGP’s ‘Put patients first: Back general practice’ campaign aimed at increasing funding in general practice.
The campaign aims to raise awareness about the precarious state of many practices and the potential effects on patients and the local NHS if they are allowed to close.
As part of the campaign, Pulse will:
- Lobby ministers to ensure practices facing closure are given emergency support to help them restructure and protect their patients;
- Begin an e-petition calling for a parliamentary debate on the threat of practice closures across the UK;
- Bring GP leaders together to discuss ideas on how the morale of general practice can be improved and GPs can be funded more sustainably to prevent more practices going to the wall;
- And create resources for practices to share ideas and campaign locally for better support so that practices and patient services are protected.
We are calling on GPs to:
- Let us know if you are struggling. From your stories we can build up a picture of what is happening across the UK. Email us in confidence at firstname.lastname@example.org;
- Sign our e-petition calling for a parliamentary debate on practice closures here;
- Click here to for regular updates from our campaign and the latest status on practice closures in your area.
Dr Mark Porter, chair of BMA Council, said: ‘Pulse are right to highlight that GP services are under unprecedented strain from a combination of rising patient demand and falling resources that is leaving many GP practices close to breaking point. As the BMA’s Your GP Cares campaign highlights, we need long term, sustained investment in general practice and not closures that will badly affect patient care.’
On behalf of the RCGP, Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard, RCGP honorary treasurer, said: ‘We are delighted that Pulse is joining us in highlighting the crisis facing general practice by launching the Stop Practice Closures campaign, focussing on one of the many very real current threats to patient care. We look forward to working with Pulse to ensure that general practice receives the resources it needs in order to ensure that decent patient care can continue to be delivered by family doctors in every community across the country.’
Other leading GPs have lent their support, including Professor Clare Gerada, the former chair of the RCGP and clinical chair for primary care transformation at NHS England (London). Professor Gerada said: ‘General practice faces extinction. We must protect what we know works for patients – that is continuity of care delivered by expert generalists in the context of their families and communities. We must fight to protect this. Pulse’s campaign is important and together with the RCGP and BMA campaigns will hopefully alert the public to the risks they and the NHS face if GPs disappear. ‘
Dr Michael Dixon, the chair of the NHS Alliance and Dr Kailash Chaand, deputy chair of the BMA also backed the campaign.
Dr Chand said that general practice is ‘imploding faster than people realise’. He added: ‘In this climate, we should be positively supporting GP practices to weather this storm and not allow them to shut. Every practice is a vital hub for the community and we cannot afford to lose any in the current climate. I congratulate Pulse and fully support its campaign.’
Dr Dixon said that good practices should be given all the support they can to prevent them from closing. He said: Practice closures are symptomatic of the current strain on general practice more generally . Where a practice is faced with closure due to MPIG/PMS changes we will need local flexibility and sensitivity with a good dose of common sense. At very least any contract changes facing a local GP practice should have the sign off of the local CCG and local clinical leaders.’
Pulse editor Nigel Praities said: ‘We had to launch this campaign. If these closures go ahead, then the effect on then it will be a disaster for the patients struggling to find a new GP, and the local practices left who will be left to mop up the mess left behind. We urge the NHS to look at emergency funding for struggling practices, and in the longer term, as the BMA and RCGP have argued, for more sustainable funding for GP services so that they can offer the kind of services patients deserve.’