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Worrying number of closures of GP Surgeries in England

Further to my colleague, Liz Davies’ blog regarding the number of nurses and midwives leaving the profession in the UK,  I was equally concerned to note that a recent NHS Digital report has shown that over two hundred GP surgeries across England have closed or merged in the past year, with just eight opening in the same period.

It has been widely reported that GP surgeries are increasingly under pressure because of financial constraints, rising patient numbers and a short fall in new doctors entering general practice. Worryingly, a survey conducted by the British Medical Association in 2016 found that around a third of GP surgeries in England were in a weak financial position and that at 46% of practices, some GPs were about to retire or cease working at a GP in the UK.

Whatever the reason for the decreasing number of GP surgeries, I cannot help but be concerned that the closures will lead to longer waiting times for GP appointments and an increased number of patients seeking treatment in England’s already overstretched A&E departments. In my experience, and across the department, low staffing and lack of availability of appointments can unfortunately result in delays in patients receiving treatment and could subsequently affect their chances of recovery.

GPs provide a first line service across England and Wales for a wide variety of health conditions, they are an indisputably invaluable part of our health service and  all of us  will have visited, or will visit, a GP surgery for advice and treatment in our lifetime.  For this reason, I can only hope that steps are taken to stop the closure of surgeries and to prevent a drop in the quality of care they are able to provide.

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