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  • England will lose more than 600 general practices by 2022, predicts BMA

    England will lose more than 600 general practices by 2022, predicts BMA

    Tuesday, 12 June 2018 12:03
  • Tier 2 visa rules need ‘common sense’ overhaul, says RCGP

    Tier 2 visa rules need ‘common sense’ overhaul, says RCGP

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a waiting room imageJune 12 2018

The number of general practices in England could decline by between 618 and 777 by 2022, the British Medical Association has forecast.

Its figures are based on the rate of practice closures and mergers over both the last six years, and specifically between 2016 and 2017. It is warning that without an increase in investment, and the projections bear out, “millions of patients will need to find a new practice.”

“According to NHS Digital, there were 166 fewer practices in 2017 (7,361) compared to 2016 (7,527), while the total has fallen by 963 since 2010, when there were 8,324 practices in England,” said the BMA. “While the fall in numbers is partly due to mergers, many will have closed or been forced to merge as the result of the continued pressures on general practice, following a decade of underinvestment.”

The figures are part of the BMA’s analysis of NHS England’s GP Forward View (GPFV) two years after it was first published. The GPFV committed an extra £2.4 billion a year to support general practice by 2020-21.

Among the findings in the BMA’s assessment are: 

  • it is not clear whether recurrent GPFV funding is on track, and it also remains unclear whether funding from additional resources from CCGs is being delivered;
  • current funding for general practice falls £3.7 billion short of the BMA’s target of 11% of the NHS budget
  • although additional funding for the NHS was committed in the Autumn Budget 2017, the amount going to general practice in real terms has not increased.
  • while more GPs appear to be entering training, GP recruitment still falls short of the annual recruitment target initially set in 2015-16 (and remains well short of the number needed to replace those GPs leaving the profession).

Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chair, said: “While progress has been made in a number of areas, GPFV has failed to make a big enough impact on the recruitment and retention crisis, and has been unable, so far, to make any significant inroad into the unmanageable daily workload within general practice. Furthermore, despite frequent requests from the BMA, NHS England is yet to clarify whether its spending promises are on track.

“Overall, our research provides further evidence that general practice remains in critical condition. It does not have to be that way, however. The prime minister has pledged to lay out a long-term funding plan for the NHS later this year, and she must use this opportunity to tackle the decade of underinvestment in general practice.”

Commenting on the BMA’s report, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, RCGP Chair, said: “The BMA has provided a fascinating insight on the progress of the GPFV, and we will take their report into account when we release our own comprehensive analysis, and recommendations, in the coming months.

“Their predictions around practice closures is deeply concerning – of course, some practices will close as the result of a proactive merger, or to join a federation of practices in in order to pool resources, which can lead to huge benefits for patients.

“But the stark reality is that many others are being forced to permanently shut their doors because of the intense resource and workforce pressures they are facing as they strive to meet escalating demand. In some instances, this can leave patients with long distances to travel to see a GP, particularly in remote and rural areas.”

She called on NHS England not to “give up on delivering the GP Forward View urgently, and in full but where initiatives are not going to plan, they need to be refreshed, and efforts to deliver them must be stepped up.”

Links:
BMA announcement     
RCGP comment            

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