Recruitment and funding problems have contributed to the closure of Folkestone East practice in Kent, says practice manager Christopher Lewis.
He also added that further investment in general practice is needed to help practices which are struggling with the current crisis.
He believes that the health sector has been penalised in terms of funding and that the government needs to make health a priority again, so that ‘people joining the profession know that they’ve got a long-term future in it.’
‘Our senior partner had recently retired. We had tried to recruit a replacement for him. We had no luck at all. We advertised nationally, we advertised internationally. We just weren’t able to recruit a replacement,’ said Mr Lewis.
At present, only 8% of the NHS budget goes to general practice, in comparison to 10% in 2005/06, a report by the British Medical Association (BMA) has found.
Folkestone East surgery imminent closure could leave 4,500 patients without a GP. In fact, seven in eight GP practices in the same area are no longer accepting patients due to safety concerns.
A survey by the BMA published earlier this year showed that 32% of GP practices in the south-east of England did not manage to recruit staff during the previous 12 months.
‘With nine in 10 practices telling us their workloads are unmanageable and a third of GP partners unable to fill vacancies, the situation is not confined to Folkestone,’ said BMA GPs committee chair Richard Vautrey.
‘The closure of this surgery shows just how desperate the situation has become, as funding and recruitment problems have left many practices in the area unable to cope,’ he said.
Mr Vautrey pleaded with government to act promptly to fund general practice.