Up to 350,000 lose their GP in one year after the closure of almost 100 surgeries, says research
- A total of 99 GP surgeries closed or merged in 2019, with 18 of those in London
- An estimated 350,000 patients would have been left without a GP as a result
- Freedom of Information data shows only 18 pratice closures recorded in 2013
- Expert said the closures contributed to a pre-Covid ‘workforce crisis’
Up to 350,000 people have lost their GP after almost 100 surgeries were forced to close last year, figures show.
GPs warn further surgeries could face closure over the course of this year as the nation battles the coronavirus crisis.
A total of 99 GP surgeries closed in 2019 across the UK, with 18 of those in London.
Experts estimate at least 350,000 patients would have been left without a GP and forced to move surgeries as a result of the closures.
An estimated 61,000 patients would have been affected in the capital alone.
Data obtained from a Freedom of Information request found 99 GP surgeries closed in 2019 across the UK, with 18 of those in London. At least 350,000 patient would have been left without a GP and were forced to move surgeries as a result (stock image)
The figures emerged amid news that NHS trusts will decide which cases should be seen within a month, two months, or left to anguish on their own at least three months, according to plans drawn up following warnings that too many patients have been left ‘in limbo’ after their treatment was put on hold
The data was obtained through a Freedom of Information request submitted by Pulse, a monthly news magazine for GPs.
Their figures come as it emerged NHS trusts will be forced to decide which cases should be proritised amid fears coronavirus patients have been prioritised over the treatment of other conditions.
MPs warned that failure to tackle a rising backlog could see tens of thousands of avoidable deaths this year, including up to 35,000 extra cancer deaths.
More than four million patients on NHS hospital waiting lists will be reassessed under a national review.
More than four million patients on NHS hospital waiting lists will be reassessed under a national review launched amid fears that health chiefs have prioritised coronavirus cases over the needs of all others – including advanced cancer cases (stock image)
Though coronavirus cases are rising, patients suffering from other ailments including advanced cancer have been left ‘in limbo’ after their treatment was put on hold
Though there are still deaths from coronavirus, official projections estimate that there could 75,000 non-Covid deaths as a direct result of the Government’s lockdown policy
Care home residents and staff will be first to get a Covid-19 vaccine ahead of NHS staff and all over-80s
Care home residents and staff will be the first to get a Covid-19 vaccine when one is approved, according to fresh government advice.
Everyone over the age of 80 and NHS staff will be second in line, updated guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation states.
The body, which consists of 20 top scientists, advises ministers on all vaccines. It admitted its guidance for any UK Covid-19 vaccination scheme is likely to change in the future.
Matt Hancock previously pledged that Britons with underlying conditions would be near the front of the queue for any jab. But millions living with heart disease or other ailments that raise their risk of dying of Covid-19 won’t be vaccinated until everyone over the age of 65 is inoculated, according to the new guidance.
WHO WILL GET A COVID-19 JAB FIRST?
Under the proposed ranking by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, the vaccines will be rolled out in the following order:
- older adults’ resident in a care home and care home workers
- all those 80 years of age and over and health and social care workers
- all those 75 years of age and over
- all those 70 years of age and over
- all those 65 years of age and over
- high-risk adults under 65 years of age with underlying health woes
- moderate-risk adults under 65 years of age with underlying health woes
- all those 60 years of age and over
- all those 55 years of age and over
- all those 50 years of age and over
- rest of the population (priority to be determined)
While the programme is meant to speed up treatment for those in most dire need, millions assigned the lowest priority can expect to wait months, and in some cases years.
The news is the latest blow for the beleagured health system, further crippled by the coronavirus crisis.
Local surgeries have been under pressure for years, with the figures from Pulse suggestying a further 138 GP practices closed in 2018 and more than 100 in 2017.
It is a stark contrast to the picture in 2013 when only 18 pratice closures were recorded.
The research found 20 per cent of closures were due to branches merging with others nearby, but many were due to practices closing altogether.
Dr Richard Vautrey, the BMA GP committee chairman, said the situation had contributed to a ‘workforce crisis’ that emerged before Covid-19 took hold.
He told The Telegraph: ‘We have a workforce crisis making an impact long before the pandemic – unsustainable workload, mounting bureaucracy and historical under-resourcing are behind these changes, and the impact of these pressures on patients is grave.’
Dr Vautrey added that the closures and mergers of such a vast swathe of GP surgeries is ‘sadly not surprising’ as the number of GPs in England dropped severely over the same period.
Up to 1,000 full-time GP partners were lost between 2018 and 2019.
He called on the Government to support the GPs still working during the coronavirus crisis to get additional support.
He said: ‘With a second spike in Covid-19 now a reality, alongside traditional winter pressures and a significantly ramped up flu campaign, doctors need guarantees from the Government that they will get all the resources and support they need to provide the care their patients deserve.’
A spokesman for NHS England said: ‘While this represents a very small proportion of practices, in some cases surgeries have merged with a nearby practice and in other cases a partner may have retired.
‘The expansion of primary care networks is ensuring greater availability of the right kind of appointment for patients – whether face to face or remote – and support for constituent practices.’
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