Pressures on general practice prompt list closures

More than one in three surgeries have closed their lists to new patients or have warned they may do so, a new survey has suggested.

The poll of 500 GPs was conducted by the industry news site Pulse and helped illustrated the extent of the strain that current conditions are placing on many practices around the country.

Nine per cent of respondents admitted that they had already taken the decision not to accept any new patients, while a further 28 per cent are considering taking the step.

Several practitioners said they had applied to close the lists but had been warned they would be unable to do so by either NHS England itself or their local health board.

Dr Robert Morley, a senior figure at the British Medical Association (BMA), said: “These figures speak volumes about the massive pressures that general practices are facing at present.

“GPs must prioritise the delivery of providing safe care to their current registered lists and are clearly doing so.

“We can only expect the situation to get worse unless the required steps to improve matters are taken now and those with the power to do so must take note.”

Dr Richard Vautrey, the BMA’s GP Committee chair, added that surgeries faced “unprecedented pressure” as a result of rising workloads and squeezed budgets.

“These findings are unsurprising and the BMA’s larger survey found that even higher numbers of GP practices were considering closing their patient lists because they cannot provide care effectively and safely to the public in the current climate,” he said.

“The poll results were central to the development of our proposals in Saving General Practice, which if implemented would help to turn around the current crisis. The BMA is also regularly using its poll of members, and the growing reality around the country, as evidenced in its talks with the Government to impress on them the need for urgent action to solve the crisis facing general practice.”

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