LMC Conference 2016: GPs demand NHS contingency plan to cope with practice closures

GPs have unanimously called for the urgent introduction into NHS emergency plans of measures to cope with large numbers of patients being left without a GP practice at short notice.

NHS England emergency preparedness and resilience planning should incorporate steps to address large numbers of patients left without access to general practice through unexpected closure of their GP practice, LMC representatives said.

Proposing a motion chosen for debate by delegates at the LMC conference 2016 following a debate on workforce pressures, former GPC negotiator Dr Peter Holden warned that wholesale GP service failure was ‘now a real threat’.

‘Today we have listened to repeated stories from motivated GPs who are no longer able to cope,’ he told the conference.

‘General practices are collapsing now primarily because of failure to retain and recruit and the results of a heavy-handed, massive increase in demand without resources.

GP crisis

‘And, put bluntly, without general practice A&E will be swamped within two days at the most. Both the localised or widespread collapse of general practice needs to go on the risk register.

‘We need to get the message through locally. We have to protect general practice from the tsunami of collapse. Passing this motion is us as UK GPs advising the four governments of the severe risks and consequences of collapse of GP services.’

Dr Tim Morton from Norfolk and Waveney LMC also  backed the motion. He said: ‘This is so important. We have a seaside town where one practice had its registration cancelled overnight by CQC. This resulted in 5,000 patients begin redistributed to two other practices.’

This ‘flood of patients’ overwhelmed the remaining practices, he said. ‘Two senior doctors at these practices left  and the private comp handed back its APMS contract. So now a further 6,000 patients don’t have a doctor.

‘That’s 16% of the town’s population with an uncertain future on care. It’s unsafe for doctors and unsafe for patients.’

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