500 GP practices close in 5 years

As figures reveal 500 GP surgeries have closed in England in the past five years, the GPC demands the ‘fundamental problems’ in general practice are addressed.

In response to a question posed by an MP, health minister Dr Dan Poulter revealed that 518 GP practices have closed in England since 2010, with 78 having closed in the first half of 2014 alone.

In the same five-year time period, 110 new practices have opened, with just nine having opened this year despite almost 80 closing their doors.

Dr Poulter stressed the figures include “practice mergers and takeovers and do not provide an accurate representation of activity or service provision”. NHS England added that the health governing body “aims to ensure that all patients will be able to register with a GP.”

Despite these assurances, the figures have prompted warnings from the General Practitioners Committee (GPC) that general practice is “in crisis” and requires “urgent negotiated solutions” to solve underlying problems.

Dr Beth McCarron-Nash, negotiator for the GPC, said the committee would “continue to lobby NHS England and the Department of Health to address the fundamental problems that GPs are facing”.

McCarron-Nash listed the issues as a “disinvestment” in GP services, “catastrophic changes to the NHS pensions scheme” and the lack of a national strategy to “solve the fact that over 25% of GPs are over the age of 50”.