Around one-in-10 practices reported that their finances were so weak that they were financially unsustainable, a major new survey from the British Medical Association (BMA) revealed.
The poll of 2,830 practices also found that a further fifth said that their finances were weak but they had plans to improve them.
This comes after Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England admitted that the support package for GPs, reportedly due in January and then publicly announced as being revealed in February, will be pushed back to ‘spring’, and within five to seven weeks from now.
The survey also found that practices are widely having problems finding locum cover in the last 12 months, with nearly half (48.4%) saying they ‘frequently’ had difficulty, and more than a third (37.9%) saying they had problems occasionally.
Moreover, the vast majority (91.3%) said that demand for appointments had grown in the last 12 months.
In response, Chaand Nagpaul, BMA GPs committee chair, said: “With hundreds of GP practices facing financial uncertainty, and close to 300 practices facing possible closure, we need the government to act urgently to deliver a comprehensive rescue package that safeguards GP services for patients.”
Half of practices said that workload is ‘unmanageable a lot of the time’, and more than one-in-ten said that their workload was unmanageable all of the time (12.4%).
The poll also found more than a third of practices said they had GPs who had firm plans to retire in the next 12 months, a further 9% said they had GPs who intended to leave UK general practice.
When the new 2016/17 contract was announced last month, Stevens promised this was part of a “far wider package” for GPs “that will require radical new options, including further support for GP recruitment and return to practice, funding for additional primary care staff, new options for practice premises, a reduction in paper-based red tape, alternative approaches to indemnity cover, and redesigned out of hours, 111 and extended hours arrangements, to name just a few.”
The BMA, along with the Royal College of GPs, are consulting on the rescue package with NHS England, to help practices with workload, workforce and care redesign.