Number of GP practices in England falls by 263 in 12 months

The number of GP practices in England has fallen by 263 in the 12 months to 1 July 2018, official data reveal.

GP practice closures (Photo: iStock)
GP practice closures (Photo: iStock)

GP leaders have warned repeatedly that practice closures are at record levels, and the latest figures reveal the continuing steady fall in practice numbers - while average practice lists continue to increase.

On 1 July 2018 there were 7,148 GP practices in England, data from NHS Digital reveal, down from 7,411 a year earlier. The data do not differentiate between mergers and closures, but the BMA warned in June that general practice was 'at serious risk of collapse' as soaring workload and pressure on GPs took their toll.

In January this year, GPonline revealed that practice mergers or closures had affected 500,000 patients in the six-month period from 1 July 2017 to 1 January 2018. The BMA warned earlier this year that one in 10 GP practices could be forced to close by 2022.

The average practice list size has now risen to 8,279, compared with 7,893 a year ago. The latest average list size figure is a staggering 19% higher than the figure for five years ago, analysis by GPonline shows.

Speaking at the BMA's annual conference in Brighton, GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey warned that general practice was the 'foundation on which the NHS had been built', but that it had been taken for granted and was now under severe pressure.

GPs at the LMCs conference in March condemned the rate at which practices were now handing back their contracts as 'a national disgrace'.

GP reforms

However, a raft of major changes to general practice contracts and funding could be on the horizon, with NHS England board papers last month suggesting the GMS contract could be in line for its biggest overhaul since 2004.

NHS leaders are discussing the 'implications and opportunities' of plans to increase the NHS budget by £20.5bn by 2023/24. The ongoing GP partnership review, plans to scrap up to a quarter of QOF targets, an overhaul of the Carr-Hill formula that dictates practice funding, and a review of premises are likely to combine to drive significant reforms.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

Government must show evidence behind PPE strategy, warns BMA

Government must show evidence behind PPE strategy, warns BMA

Chronic shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) across the NHS during the...

Viewpoint: Bullying is a silent epidemic within the NHS

Viewpoint: Bullying is a silent epidemic within the NHS

There is a lack of training in general practice around understanding bullying, says...

HRT prescriptions lower in most deprived areas of England, study finds

HRT prescriptions lower in most deprived areas of England, study finds

Prescriptions for HRT are 29% lower in GP practices in England's most deprived areas...

Map: Which parts of England are most reliant on GPs aged over 55?

Map: Which parts of England are most reliant on GPs aged over 55?

More than two-fifths of the full-time equivalent (FTE) GP workforce is aged over...

Government outlines PPE supply plans as GPs remain in dark over reimbursement

Government outlines PPE supply plans as GPs remain in dark over reimbursement

The government has outlined plans to provide 'an uninterrupted supply' of PPE during...

Four in five GPs report heavy workload as COVID-19 second wave builds

Four in five GPs report heavy workload as COVID-19 second wave builds

Four in five GPs say their practice is currently facing levels of workload that are...