Getting a doctors appointment can be tough at the best of times as we try and balance work, family and the occasionally spot of fun time too. But for more and more patients this struggle is getting even harder.
As record numbers of GP’s are set to close are you one of the thousands of patients who will be forced to find a new practice?
A Freedom of Information request by Pulse magazine revealed 57 practices closed in 2016. The number of patients having to change their surgery increased by 150% from 2014 and up 15% from 2015. This meant around 265,000 patients had to go through the hassle of finding a new surgery and registering to receive treatment. This often resulted in patients having to travel further to reach care.
Senior doctors have warned that communities are being deprived of vital care, with elderly patients increasingly expected to travel long distances for treatment and endure long waiting times.
Some of the areas hit worst include Brighton which has had seven practices close in the past two years. According to Pulse, the closure of four of these surgeries meant 9,000 patients were forced to find a new practice.
These figures have done little to reassure those worried about the ability of GPs to serve the community. Despite the NHS’s announcement last year that it would be annually investing £2.4bn into services by 2020, it seems the needs of surgeries are still not being met.
Dr Chaand Naipaul, chairman of the British Medical Association’s GP committee, spoke to Pulse and said that while the money could make a difference, local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) were making it difficult to get cash to where it is needed.
He said: The tragedy is CCGs have not delivered their part in making the resource available. Many practices that should have received support have had none to date. That’s been a failing of local delivery.”
According to an NHS spokesperson, all NHS patients wanting to register with a GP practice are guaranteed to be able to do so and the investment has been increased in general practice to facilitate this process.
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said: “GP practices are the lifeblood of our local communities so the complete closure of any practice will always be a last resort when all other options have proved unworkable. Unfortunately, too many practices are being forced to close because GPs and their teams can no longer cope with ever-growing patient demand without the necessary funding and workforce to deal with it.”