As many as a hundred GP practices closed last year during the height of the pandemic, according to new data.
It brings the total number of closures in the last eight years to 800, according to the analysis. GP leaders called for a full investigation into closures, many of them caused by GP recruitment problems. The Royal College of GPs warned closures could continue unless the pressures facing practices are tackled.
Chair Professor Martin Marshall said: “Some of the closures will be due to practices merging, or working in different ways, but some practices will have had no choice but to close due to intense workforce and workload pressures – and this must be addressed urgently.
General practice was dealing with unsustainable workload, and practices were struggling to recruit sufficient numbers of GPs and practice staff to handle it, before the pandemic. The pandemic has only exacerbated these pressures. This has resulted in GPs feeling burnt out and leaving the profession before they planned to and has forced some practices to close for good.”
Professor Marshall added: “We need to see initiatives in place to prevent GPs from burning out, as well as further efforts to recruit doctors to the profession and keep existing, experienced GPs on the frontline. We need to be able to manage the increasing workload pressures facing the profession, and keep practices open, so we can continue to deliver the high-quality care and access to services that our patients rely on us for.”