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End of the GP? Patients are affected as 474 GP practices close in a decade
- Nearly 1.5 million people have been forced to travel further afield for treatment
- Research also shows that the traditional GP-patient relationship is being lost
- Doctor magazine Pulse found that 474 surgeries have been closed in the UK since 2013
Nearly 500 GP surgeries have been permanently closed in the past decade without being replaced, according to stark numbers unearthed in a study.
It means nearly 1.5 million people have been forced to travel further afield for treatment because no new surgeries have opened in their zip code area.
The research also shows that the traditional GP-patient relationship is being lost because the average practice that closed treated fewer people in the area.
Doctors magazine Pulse found that 474 surgeries in the UK have been closed since 2013 without being replaced.
It means nearly 1.5 million people have been forced to travel further afield to receive treatment because no new surgeries have opened in their zip code area (stock image)
A snapshot of 162 found retirements, layoffs and difficulties recruiting were the final straw for 42 percent of closures.
Earlier this year, analysis found that half of England’s small GP practices had closed in the past decade, but this is the first to see if they’ve been replaced.
While some areas in their wider area may have gained primary care, Pulse said new practices open much less frequently than existing ones.
The new research found that the average lost surgery since 2013 had an average patient list of 2,738 people, while practices today typically have more than 9,000 on their books.
The study also finds that the traditional GP-patient relationship is being lost as the average practice that closed treated fewer people nearby (stock image)
Minor surgeries are among the most popular, according to patient satisfaction surveys.
Rachel Power, Director of the Patient Association, said: ‘At many of these practices, patients have built up a strong and important relationship with their GP over many years.
“The loss of their practice will mean patients will have to travel to see a new primary care physician, potentially pushing more patients to the ER, which is itself under a lot of pressure.”
An NHS spokesperson said: ‘The NHS has invested record amounts in GP practice this year, in addition to the number of staff increasing by 18,000 since 2019, well above the government’s target.’
Electric fleet ‘frees up ambulances’
The NHS is bringing in a fleet of electric vehicles to relieve the pressure on ambulances.
Eight ambulance trusts are testing 21 zero-emission vehicles, six of which are dedicated to answering mental health reports.
The mental health vehicles will differ in design from traditional ambulances, with fewer fluorescent markings and a much less clinical interior to put patients at ease.
Other green fleet vehicles include those to transport patients to high dependency units.
It is part of a £2.1m investment as the NHS moves towards net zero by 2040.
James Cook, director of primary and community care improvement at NHS England, said: ‘These vehicles will change the way we deliver care in the community – helping us see more patients while reducing the demand for traditional double crew ambulances. [and] the NHS is meeting its green ambitions.’