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Utility price rises will lead to practice closures unless support is provided, managers warn

by Beth Gault
7 September 2022

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The increased cost of living will likely cause GP practice closures unless the Government reduces the energy price cap or provides extra funding support, the Institute of General Practice Management (IGPM) has warned.

Some practices have reported increases in their energy bills of up to 665% for a fixed rate tariff, or 362% for a variable tariff, according to the IGPM.

One rural practice with 4,500 patients, which is a member of the body, has reported an annual rise in their energy bills from £9,900 to £32,000.

The IGPM said that practice income is ‘unable to keep up with’ these rises, and that staff are ‘understandably concerned’.

In a statement calling on the Government to provide support to practices, IGPM’s directors said: ‘The impact of these price rises with no additional support in many cases will mean surgeries closing their doors as they no longer become financially sustainable.

‘This will lead to staff unemployment and patients having to join other practices which may be further away and may even lead to more practice closures as they struggle to manage the increased demand.’

The body said practices were already doing what they can to limit energy usage, but that they needed more support heading into winter, as the season typically already brings more pressures than the summer months.

‘We also care for some of the most vulnerable in society. We cannot continue to provide this care without hot water and heating during the winter months. We cannot run our computer systems, lighting, or telephones without electricity,’ IGPM added.

‘We are asking the government to bring down the price cap or to provide additional funding support to GP practices to enable us to keep our doors open this winter and beyond.’

At Prime Minister’s Questions today (7 September), the new Prime Minister, Liz Truss, confirmed a plan would be unveiled to tackle energy bills on Thursday 8 September.

Ms Truss said: ‘I will make sure in our energy plan that we’ll help support businesses and people with the immediate price crisis as well as making sure there are long term supplies available.’

Last month, the BMA warned that rising inflation and GP costs could lead some GP practices to go out of business within two years.