Are hundreds of GP practices about to close?
Family practices serving 2.5m patients in the UK may close in the next five years as GPs leave the profession, the Royal College of General Practitioners has warned.
Some 762 practices across the UK are estimated to be in danger of closure because three quarters of GPs are aged over 55 and approaching retirement.
RCGP officials said drastic action is needed to address workload pressures that are making a career in general practice untenable. It added that more initiatives should be implemented to increase retention.
The college called for an additional £2.5bn a year for general practice in England by 2020/21 as part of the NHS long-term plan currently being developed by NHS organisations, which was announced as a ’10-year plan’ by the Prime Minister earlier this year.
Five clinical commissioning group areas are identified as being at greatest risk: Sandwell and West Birmingham (85,105 patients), Medway (52,330), Havering (49,761), Ealing (46,909) and Wigan Borough (43,640).
Royal College of GPs chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, said decision makers must think how to retain the GP workforce, and the forthcoming long-term plan for the NHS is the ideal opportunity to do so. The long-term plan is to have an extra £20.5bn a year in funding.
The BMJ reported that NHS England had cast doubt on the predictions, saying the RCGP had assumed no new doctors or health professionals would start work in general practice during the period. It also claimed that more GPs were being trained than ever before.