GP practice closures in deprived communities will have a stark impact, says College Chair

Responding to research from The Company Chemists' Association that found an increase in GP surgery and pharmacy closures in deprived areas, Professor Kamila Hawthorne, Chair of the Royal College of GPs said: “Closing a GP practice will be one of the saddest and most difficult decisions a GP partner can make, particularly if the reason for it is unmanageable workload or not being able to fill vacancies, and this is likely to be the case for community pharmacies, as well. The sense of disappointment at not being able to fulfil our commitments to our patients runs deep.

"Workload and workforce pressures are affecting GP surgeries and community pharmacies across the country but can have a greater impact in deprived areas where patients often have more complex health needs, and GPs have more patients per doctor. The loss of a GP practice or pharmacy in these areas will clearly have a stark impact on the community. "GPs and our teams want to deliver safe, timely and appropriate care to our patients wherever they live, but decades of underfunding and poor workforce planning have left general practice in crisis. In 2022, GPs delivered 340 million appointments, nearly 9% more than in 2019, while on average the size of the workforce has fallen by 754 since 2019. “This is why the College is calling on Government to implement a new recruitment and retention strategy that goes beyond the target of 6,000 more GPs it pledged in its election manifesto, as well as investment in GP practices and IT systems to make it easier for patients to access appropriate care. Government must also take steps to cut bureaucracy so that GPs have more time to deliver care to the growing numbers of patients who need it.”

Further information

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Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 54,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.