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Why Have 200 GP Practices Closed Their Doors in the Past 12 Months?

Figures published by NHS Digital have shown that 202 GP practices in England closed or merged in the 12 months preceding June 2017, with less than ten new practices opening in that time.

The north of England saw more than 60 practices either close or merge between 1 July 2016 and 30 June 2017, while the south of England saw upwards of 50 close or merge over the same period. Only eight new practices opened in the whole of England in the course of the 12 months.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, has said the closures are at least partially to blame on the increasing stress being placed on primary care providers:

“It’s not clear with these figures why practices have closed – some may have merged, and others may have closed as a result of working ‘at scale’, which can bring benefits for patients through pooling resources to provide additional services or better appointment access.

“But this won’t always be the case and when practices are being forced to close because GPs and their teams can no longer cope with ever-growing patient demand without the necessary funding and resources, it’s a huge problem.”

Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee acting chair, was also concerned about what the closures mean for the future of general practice: “The government has long ignored GPs’ warnings that general practice is struggling to cope, but this is further evidence that the service is at breaking point.

“With over 200 practices closed or merged in the last year and many more struggling to manage their workload pressures it is time for government and NHS England to step up their efforts to resolve this crisis before even more patients lose their much loved local GP service.”

Stay tuned to the FPM Blog for coverage of the biggest stories and issues facing general practice today. Plus, don’t forget to make your voice heard by sharing your thoughts in the comment section below.


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