Exclusive: At least 99 GP practices across England have closed in the past three and a half years, official statistics obtained by Pulse reveal.
The figures, released by NHS England’s local area teams in response to a Freedom of Information request, cover 26 of the country’s 27 areas, with only East Anglia failing to provide any information. However six LATs – Birmingham, Greater Manchester, North East London, North West London, South London and West Yorkshire – were only able to confirm closures which had taken place since April this year.
In total 99 GP practices were reported as having closed since April 2010. Nine have closed since April this year, including two in the Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire region.
Some 26 practices closed in 2010-11, with 33 closing in 2011-12 and 31 in 2012-13. Overall Lancashire is the region with the most closures, with a total of 18 practices shutting their doors since April 2010.
GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey said that the closure of a GP practice was an ‘unusual event’, and this was reflected in the figures which overall were ‘very small’.
He added: ‘It may well be they are small practices and that would often be the commonest reason for the practice to close.’
But other GP leaders expressed concern.
Dr Kailash Chand, deputy chair of the BMA and a retired GP in Ashton-under-Lyme in Lancashire, said he had been contacted by a number of practices who were thinking about closing.
He said: ‘Small practices are under huge pressure. Many people are saying we cannot survive in this climate.’
Dr Nigel Watson, chief executive of Wessex LMC, where seven practices closed last year, said: ‘‘It reflects the pressure practices are facing and there are a number of practices that are looking to merge to remain viable, including some bigger practices. There are some practices that are tinkering on the brink of viability.’
‘This year, there are two or three where the partners are earning less than salaried GPs and are thinking of handing their contracts back. The partners feel they are better off getting out.’