‘We’re losing two practices per week,’ NHS England’s director of primary care revealed last week.
Speaking at the Royal College General Practitioner (RCGP) annual conference on 13 October, Dr Arvin Madan expressed his concerns on the future of general practice in a question-style event, among other healthcare professionals.
Practices under pressure
Dr Madan said: ‘Back in 2007 in Tower Hamlets, when there were 36 practices and eight networks, the ability for collegiate working across groups of practices to support the smaller practices with the range of services they’re able to offer was tangible in their survival through that period.
‘We want to maintain the flavour of each individual practice. Nonetheless, it is true to say we’re losing about two practices per week with the average list size of those being under 2,000,’ he said.
His remarks come at a time when GP practices are faced with an ever growing number of new patients, some left without a GP practice following record-level closures last year.
Roy Lilley, NHS writer, broadcaster and commentator, who was also a member of the panel, said: ‘I get up in the morning and get on the train with 2,000 people.
‘None of us have the opportunity to see the doctor before or after we go to work because, even with extended working hours, it’s closed.
‘Primary care is irrelevant. The business model is screwed.’
A recent BMA survey revealed that more than half of GP practices were considering closing their patient lists, as they feel they are no longer able to provide safe care.
Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chair, said: ‘Not only are GPs treating more people than ever before, the complexity of problems they have to deal with has increased as people live longer with more long-term conditions.
‘This is creating a climate where GP services are struggling to cope with unsustainable workload and deliver the care their local communities need.
‘GP practices urgently need funding that matches the understandable demand from patients. There were more warm words from the Secretary of State this week, but patients need action and not more pledges from politicians.’
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