Rate at which GPs are handing back contracts 'a national disgrace', LMCs told

GPs leaders have hit out at record levels of practice closures, calling for a public campaign to warn patients about the 'mounting threat' to general practice and better plans to avoid dangerous 'unmanaged dispersals' of patient lists.

Practice closures (Photo: iStock)
Practice closures (Photo: iStock)

Bristol GP Dr Shaba Nabi told the conference that two years after she resigned as a partner, the practice - which she has continued to serve as a salaried GP - is about to hand back its contract.

'Between us the partners and I have given over 150 years to serving our community, with an average of 20 years each,' she told LMCs.

'Another three practices in Bristol have handed back contracts in the last few years. In Plymouth a quarter of the population has general practice being run by interim providers. How can we stop this? The public have no idea how vulnerable their local practice is - there needs to be a mass media campaign about the loss of local GPs.'

GP practice closures

'The rate at which practices are handing back their contracts is quite frankly a national disgrace.'

GPonline reported earlier this year that in the six months to January 2018 practices serving 500,000 patients had been affected by mergers or closures, and the BMA has warned repeatedly that closures are at record levels.

A further speaker from the Plymouth area said that 34,000 patients currently 'don't have a fixed GP' because of practice closures. 'GPs are struggling, my colleagues are struggling. Typically, it is the complex patients that re-register and are added onto the lists of neighbouring practices, which is difficult to cope with.

'NHS England has tried to step in, but it hasn't worked. I fear for the future of general practice in Plymouth, I fear for th e practices that will get sucked in, who are sitting  on the event horizon and could be sucked into this black hole.

'Our NHS is 70 years old but our 70-year-old patients are currently being failed. I urge conference to support this.'

GPs at the conference backed the following motion unanimously:

That conference is concerned about the number of recent practice closures and (i) believes that unmanaged dispersals lead to patient safety issues (ii) believes that more needs to be done to make the public aware of the mounting threat to the system of general practice (iii) demands details of the contractual arrangements to provide ongoing primary care after a practice closure, are made public (iv) instructs GPC to take urgent action to ensure the protection of ‘last man standing’ GPs from any additional costs of resignation or retirement resulting from practice closure

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