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Recent news reports have highlighted the dire straits our GP surgeries find themselves in. Multiple closures across the UK, with surviving surgeries having to merge and take the strain of an increasing number of patients, with fewer GPs remaining in practice, has led to an already difficult situation, becoming increasingly impossible to manage.
The leading publication for GPs, “Pulse”, sought a Freedom of Information request that revealed some alarming statistics. http://www.pulsetoday.co.uk/hot-topics/stop-practice-closures/150-rise-in-patients-forced-to-move-gp-practice-as-closures-hit-record-levels/20034208.article
The article explains that:
“More than a quarter of a million patients in England were forced to move GP surgery last year, despite NHS England launching a £500m ‘turnaround package’ year designed to alleviate the crisis in general practice.”
“In total, 265,000 patients had to change their practice - a 150% increase on 2014 figures, and a 15% increase on 2015 - in most cases meaning they have to travel further and lose continuity of care they had with their GP”.
The Freedom of Information request revealed that 58 practices had to close completely last year, whilst another 34 surgeries had to close due to practice mergers.
This comes in the wake of GP practices already taking up the strain of seeing more patients walk through the door, after much publicised advice from the NHS about patients not attending A&E departments for minor injuries and illnesses.
These concerning statistics highlight the difficulties in ensuring good standards of care are provided consistently across the country. Patients are having to travel greater distances to see their GP and with higher levels of patients and fewer GPs, the availability of appointments is bound to reduce, as we see the full impact of the closures unfold throughout 2017.
Pulse took matters into its own hands in 2014, by commencing a campaign “Stop Practice Closures”, which has resulted in more public funding finding its way to general practice medicine. However, more is needed to ensure the survival of the country’s GP services if we are to promote patient safety and ensure those needing treatment get access to the right services.
If you would like to discuss this blog, please contact Laura Sylvester or a member of our Clinical Negligence team. Alternatively, you can contact us on 020 7814 1200 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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