Health boards take over 42 doctor’s surgeries as GP shortage crisis deepens. It’s happening now. Implosion of your health services due to prolonged rationing by undercapacity, underprovision and denial.

It’s happening now. Implosion of your health services due to prolonged rationing by undercapacity, underprovision and denial.

Vivienne Aitken reports for the Daily Record 17th July 2015: Health boards take over 42 doctor’s surgeries as GP shortage crisis deepens

and in the same paper on 19th July: NHS crisis: Doctors claim a lack of new GPs is putting patients’ lives at risk.. and we need action now

HEALTH boards are resorting to emergency measures to help practices where doctors are facing burnout and patients are waiting longer to be seen as the GP shortage crisis in Scotland grows.

SCOTTISH LABOUR last week said the country’s GP surgeries were in trouble as doctors retire amid a shortage of new recruits. Here, two doctors warn that urgent action is vital to protect patients.ortage crisis in Scotland grows.

Remember Neil Roberts warning on 2nd October 2014 in GP Mag: GP workforce crisis could force 600 practices to close, warns RCGP

New research from the college estimates that the recruitment and retention crisis in general practice threatens to force 543 practices in England alone to shut down in the next 12 months, with up to 600 at risk across the UK.

RCGP data show that over 90% of GPs working in these practices are aged over 60.

The research found:

  • More than 1,000 GPs will be leaving the profession on an annual basis by 2022.
  • Around 22% of GPs in London could step back from front-line patient care within the next five years (with 41% of London GPs aged over 50).
  • The number of unfilled GP posts has nearly quadrupled in the last three years (2.1% in 2010 compared with 7.9%  in 2013)….

Well reality has happened. Judith Welikala confirmed the figures 4 days ago in the Local Government Chronicle: Nearly 600 GP practices closed since 2010

Nearly 600 GP practices have closed in the last five years, data seen by LGC’s sister title Health Service Journal reveals.

However, patient list sizes have steadily risen over the same period, which suggests a shift towards larger scale providers.

Between 2010-11 and 2014-15, 599 GP practices closed, according to Health and Social Care Information Centre figures. Ninety-four practices opened during this time (see graph below).

Ninety-one practices closed in 2010-11, rising to 115 in 2011-12 and 145 in 2012-13. The figure fell to 99 in 2013-14, but jumped to 149 practice closures last year.

The numbers include practices that have merged or been taken over, and are therefore still providing services. There has been a push by policymakers to scale up primary care, and it is a feature of the new models of care outlined in the NHS Five Year Forward View.

The average number of registered patients per practice has steadily increased in the past five years, from 6,610 in 2010 to 7,171 in 2014, according to the information centre (see table below).

Average list size, 2010-2014

Year Average practice list size
2010 6,610
2011 6,651
2012 6,891
2013 7,034
2014 7,171

Richard Vautrey, deputy chair of the British Medical Association’s GP committee, told HSJ the figures “demonstrate the trend towards bigger practices which has been a steady pattern over recent years”.

However, he said: “It is likely that this could be accelerating as practices which were previously sustainable are becoming unsustainable because of funding cuts, rising workload and difficulties with GP and nurse recruitment.”

Dr Vautrey predicted there would be a “significant difference from the steady state situation” in the current financial year, as “all of these pressures are coming to bear”.

He said there were “significant changes going on around the country, with practices actively considering mergers, which they weren’t doing before, and with a number of small practices and with older GPs deciding that enough is enough and closing as a result of the various pressures they’re facing”.

He said he thought 2013-14, when fewer practices closed, was a “blip”.

“The only thing that could potentially account for it… would be that [reviews into GP practice funding] hadn’t yet started at that point, and so maybe some practices were waiting to see what the approach of NHS England would be before making any decisions about closing or merging with other organisations,” he said.


This entry was posted in A Personal View, General Practitioners, Rationing, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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