GP SURGERY closures hit a record level last year, forcing over a quarter of a million patients to change practices, according to new figures published today.
A shocking 57 surgeries closed their doors last year, with a further 34 being lost due to mergers, according to NHS England data.
And no fewer than 254,000 patients changed their practice last year — a 150 per cent increase on 2014 figures, according to statistics obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.
NHS England agreed an additional £500 million in funding for struggling GP surgeries last April under the General Practice Forward Review.
However, the Royal College of GPs (RCGP) warns that the government’s widely opposed Sustainability and Transformation Plans will lead to a fall in GP numbers despite a commitment in the review to deliver 5,000 additional such doctors by 2020.
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, who chairs the RCGP, said: “Unfortunately, too many practices are being forced to close because GPs and their teams can no longer cope with ever-growing patient demand without the necessary funding and workforce to deal with it.”
It was announced in February that negotiations between NHS England and the doctors’ union the BMA have seen the implementation of a new GP funding formula delayed until August 2018 to protect practices from financial instability.
Speaking to the Star in a personal capacity, BMA deputy chair Dr David Wrigley said: “The closure of GP surgeries is a disgrace and is entirely due to this government’s desire to cut much-needed funding out of the NHS and see the service deteriorate and collapse.
“Of course, we continue to see big business making hefty profits from the NHS and Tory ministers moving into the boardroom once they have completed their time in office wrecking the NHS.”
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said the figures showed that the “NHS funding squeeze is impacting on people every day in communities across the country.
“A government who knew how to manage the NHS properly would be getting a grip. But instead of leadership, we get incompetence.”
He urged the government to “take urgent action to address this spike in GP closures.”
An NHS England spokesman said: “All NHS patients wanting to register with a GP practice are guaranteed to be able to do so and we have increased investment in
general practice by £1 billion in two years in order to improve services and boost GP numbers.”