Is your GP surgery at risk of closure? Map reveals where 2.5 MILLION patients could see their practice disappear ‘because thousands of doctors are retiring early’
- More than 600 doctors’ surgeries in the UK could close in the next five years
- Huge numbers of GPs are close to retirement and can’t be replaced in time
- The closures could be ‘catastrophic’ for the NHS and ‘dangerous’ for patients
More than 2.5 million patients across England could see their GP surgeries close in the next five years, experts have calculated.
Health leaders say thousands of doctors are on the brink of leaving the profession and taking an early retirement will have a ‘catastrophic’ effect.
Appointment waiting times would get even longer, workloads would grow and more people could end up queueing at A&E for minor illnesses, they warn.
Three quarters of GPs are close to retirement and the same proportion of practices rely on doctors aged 55 or older – the age they can claim their pensions.
The Royal College of General Practitioners fears 762 practices across the UK will disappear by 2023 because they are relying on older GPs.
Campaigners have warned the potential closures would be ‘dangerous’ for patients and they have called for ‘drastic action’ to buck the trend and encourage new GPs to join the profession.
Figures from the Royal College of General Practitioners have revealed 762 GP practices across the UK are at risk of closing in the next five years because there aren’t enough new doctors being recruited
Some 458,000 patients in England lost their GP surgery last year, a figure which has risen from just 38,000 in 2013.
The RCGP, a union that represents GPs, wants £2.5 billion of extra investment in local surgeries to try and combat the crisis.
The situation is worst in Southend, Essex, where 13 of the area’s 35 GP practices are at risk of closing, potentially affecting nearly 39,000 patients.
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A third of surgeries in the London borough of Havering could shut down, and more than 85,000 patients could lose their GP in Sandwell and West Birmingham.
Only around a quarter of areas of England have no practices at risk of closure, according to estimates by the RCGP.
A practice is classed at risk if three quarters of GPs are aged 55 or older.
The RCGP used data from all practices available and then used the average figures to estimate the risk for those where no data exists.
‘GPs will always work their hardest to try to keep practices open,’ said Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the college.
‘But the harsh reality is that fantastic, caring GPs are burning out, working in conditions that are unsafe for their own health and that of their patients.
‘Workload in general practice is escalating yet our workforce is actually decreasing.
‘As a result, many GPs are bringing forward their retirement plans because the pressures they are working under are untenable.
WHERE ARE THE MOST GP SURGERIES AT RISK OF CLOSING?
Source: Royal College of GPs
WHERE WILL THE MOST PATIENTS BE AFFECTED?
Source: Royal College of GPs
‘If these GPs do leave, and these practices do close, it will have a catastrophic impact on our profession and the patient care we are able to provide.’
Rural areas such as Cornwall, Norfolk, Hampshire, Sussex, West Lincolnshire and North Yorkshire appear to have a smaller percentage of GP surgeries at risk.
Meanwhile, urban and more populated areas such as London, Kent, and the West Midlands have more cause for concern.
England has 625 practices at risk, with 71 in Scotland, 37 in Wales and 29 in Northern Ireland, the RCGPs said.
Rachel Power, chief executive of the Patients Association, told The Times: ‘This is a desperate situation with potentially serious consequences for patients.
‘It will leave people waiting months and push more towards A&E.
‘This is dangerous not only for the many patients who want to see their family doctor, but also for the wellbeing of GPs and practice teams.
‘The new funding must be used to turn things around.’
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