GP clo­sure time­bomb warn­ing by lead­ers

Ormskirk Advertiser - - Front Page - BY JAMIE LOPEZ jamie.lopez@reach­plc.com @jamie_lopez1

MORE than a quar­ter of GPs surg­eries in West Lan­cashire are at risk of clo­sure in the next five years, health lead­ers have warned.

The Royal Col­lege of GPs (RCGP) warned of a po­ten­tially “cat­a­strophic” ef­fect of pa­tient care due to the high num­bers of GPs at risk of leav­ing the pro­fes­sion.

The group is call­ing for an ad­di­tional £2.5bn a year to be in­vested in gen­eral prac­tice by 2020/21, ar­gu­ing dras­tic ac­tion must be taken to ad­dress the work­load pres­sures that are mak­ing a ca­reer in gen­eral prac­tice un­ten­able.

With­out ur­gent in­vest­ment, the RCGP said it fears that 762 prac­tices in the UK could close over the next five years be­cause they are re­ly­ing on a work­force where three-quar­ters of GPs are aged 55 or more and are there­fore ap­proach­ing re­tire­ment age.

Ac­cord­ing to the RCGP, 28% of GP surg­eries in West Lan­cashire could close in the next five years – the fourth high­est pro­por­tion of any­where in the UK.

Also in the top 10 at risk ar­eas are: Chorley and South Rib­ble (eighth, 23%) and Wi­gan Bor­ough (tenth, 21%)

RCGP chair­woman Prof He­len StokesLam­pard said: “These new fig­ures paint an ex­tremely bleak pic­ture of the scale of the GP work­force cri­sis right across the UK.

“GPs will al­ways work their hard­est to try to keep prac­tices open 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, both in vol­ume and com­plex­ity, yet the share of the NHS bud­get gen­eral prac­tice re­ceives is less than it was a decade ago – and 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.’’

Prof Stokes-Lam­pard added: “It is a mas­sive loss to the pro­fes­sion – and pa­tients – to lose our most ex­pe­ri­enced doc­tors pre­ma­turely when they have huge amounts of knowl­edge and skill.

“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. We have more GPs in train­ing than ever be­fore, but if we have more GPs leav­ing than en­ter­ing the pro­fes­sion, we’re fight­ing a los­ing bat­tle.”

She said the col­lege wants to see the ex­tra fund­ing come as part of the forth­com­ing long-term plan for the NHS, an­nounced by Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May ear­lier this year.

“De­ci­sion-mak­ers need to think long and hard about how we can re­tain the GP work­force, and the forth­com­ing long-term plan for the NHS – funded by the ex­tra £20.5bn a year an­nounced ear­lier this year – is the ideal op­por­tu­nity to do so,” the pro­fes­sor added.

“We have seen some pos­i­tive and in­no­va­tive schemes as part of the GP For­ward View in Eng­land, such as the GP Ca­reer Plus scheme, but we need much more of this kind of thing, and on a big­ger scale.

“Be­ing a GP can be the best job in the world but only if gen­eral prac­tice is prop­erly re­sourced and pro­vided with the ad­e­quate fund­ing and re­sources to en­sure we can de­liver the high­est qual­ity care to our pa­tients.”

A quar­ter of lo­cal GP surg­eries could be at risk of clo­sure

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