Almost 300 GP practices facing closure due to financial pressure

Almost 300 GP surgeries in England face closure because of financial pressures and nearly half have doctors planning to leave the NHS, according to a BMA survey.

Thursday, 3rd March 2016, 1:40 pm
Updated Thursday, 3rd March 2016, 1:41 pm

The crisis in general practice is set to worsen according to a new BMA survey of GP practices which shows almost half face an exodus of some of their GPs from the NHS.

The survey also says that more than 900 GP practices are in a weak financial position, with 294 believing they are financially “unsustainable”.

The survey received a response from 2,830 GP practices across England, around a third of all GP practices in the country1. Key findings included:

Almost half of GP practices (46 per cent) reported that they had GPs in their workforce who were either intending to retire (37 percent) or leave the UK (nine percent).

Around one in 10 practices believe they are financially “unsustainable.”

A further one in five are having to make plans to correct a weak financial position with just one in twenty GP practices reporting that their finances were in a strong state.

The BMA has launched a new initiative called an “Urgent Prescription for General Practice” aimed at providing practices with support given the crisis gripping the profession. This has included sending every GP practice in England a package of materials, such as guidance on how to manage workload safely.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA GP committee chair, said: “This survey provides further evidence of the state of emergency facing general practice. Almost half of GP practices are looking at the loss of part of their workforce at a time when there is a shortfall in new doctors entering general practice.

“As GP services struggle to replace existing staff who leave, it will inevitably make it more difficult to maintain current services to patients and particularly to offer enough appointments for them. Just as worrying, close to three hundred practices looking after tens of thousands of patients believe their financial future is unsustainable.

“GP practices are facing this dire situation because they are being overwhelmed by rising patient demand, cuts to funding, staff shortages and more unfunded work being moved from hospitals into the community. Given these pressures it is unsurprising that GPs are considering leaving the NHS while new medical graduates are turning their backs on a career as a GP, a situation undoubtedly worsened by the government’s appalling handling of the junior doctor contract.

“With hundreds of GP practices facing financial uncertainty, and close to 300 facing possible closure, we need the government to act urgently to deliver a comprehensive rescue package that safeguards GP services for patients. We cannot have a situation where thousands of patients are left without a local GP practice that can deliver the care they deserve.”