GP leaders have called on ministers to urgently address the growing crisis threatening to overwhelm GP services after a BMA survey of GP practices in England showed many would consider a temporary or permanent closure of their practice lists because of the unsustainable pressures they are under.
The indicative survey drew responses from 1,870 GP practices in England and looked to gauge whether funding, workload and staffing pressures meant they needed to consider suspending new patient registration in order to protect patient safety. The results showed:
- 54% said they would consider temporarily suspending new patient registration so they could focus on delivering safe care to patients already on their practice list.
- 44% said they would be in favour of applying for a formal and permanent list closure from NHS England.
In Nottinghamshire LMC’s area, 43 practices responded. Of these:
- 69.77% voted in favour of temporarily suspending patient registrations
- 65% voted in favour of applying for formal list closure.
Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chairman, pictured, said: “The fact that even a single surgery has reached the point where it would consider a suspension of new patient registration or closing its patient list fully shows that government promises to rescue GP services have failed to materialise.
“Despite the hard work of GPs, nurses and practice staff, many GP practices are struggling to cope with the rising number of patients coming through their doors because of a lack of necessary funding and widespread staff shortages. A third of GP practices have told the BMA they have had vacancies that have gone unfilled for 12 months and nine out of ten have said their workload is often unmanageable.
“This is placing an intolerable pressure on local GP services, especially as they increasingly need to deliver intensive, specialist care in the community to the growing number of older patients with complex health conditions. In recent years some GP practices under considerable pressure have already taken the step of suspending their practice list in order to maintain patient safety.
“The government needs to understand that this landmark survey sounds a clear warning signal from GPs that cannot be ignored, and that the workload, recruitment and funding crisis in general practice must be addressed with far more vigour and commitment.
“Practices believe the promises in the GP Forward View which pledged to provide more resources to frontline patient care have failed to make an impact. The BMA is now calling on ministers to work with us to urgently to address this growing crisis which is threatening to overwhelm general practice. We cannot allow a situation where patient safety is being compromised by a lack of political action.”