One in 10 GP practices could close in the next 12 months
According to a GP online poll, 10% of GPs believe their practice is at risk of closing in the next 12 months. This view is due to underfunding, workload and recruitment problems.
If true, this could force more than 5 million patients in England to look for a new GP as surgery closures hit record levels.
In addition to views on their own practice, 41% of respondents are aware of other struggling practices in their local area.
The poll mirrors results of a larger British Medical Association poll earlier this year which found that 10% of GP practices were financially unsustainable.
Senior NHS officials have warned of a domino effect where closing practices destabilise others around them as patients seek a new GP.
The government has committed £10bn extra funding for the NHS throughout the current parliament, up to 2020. However, some MPs believe this figure is closer to £6bn in real terms and suggests that the NHS has not been given the funding it has requested.
General Practitioners Committee deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said that commitments by NHS England demonstrate that resources are available, but they are not yet being spent where they are most needed – core general practice, adding "it is essential that governments across the UK speed up the delivery of funding and support for general practice."
Whether or not as a result of underfunding, a recent study has suggested that the average GP appointment length is close to 9 minutes in length. This is despite 92% of GPs feeling that the recommended 10-minute slot was inadequate and the Royal College of General Practitioners arguing that appointments should be at least 15 minutes in length.
As we approach the winter period and demands on NHS services increase, patients’ quests for a speedy diagnosis may well be trickier than they had hoped.
 Health Insurance Daily (2016)