Fears mounting that GP practices in Brent face closures as doctors are not being replaced
PUBLISHED: 09:54 06 December 2018 | UPDATED: 10:08 13 December 2018
The MP for Brent Central is warning constituents about potential GP practice closures in the borough over the five years.
Dawn Butler is highlighting the risk following research by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP).
It found 13 per cent of practices in Brent are at risk of closure by 2023, affecting about 39,000 patients.
The risk is thought to be due to high numbers of GPs leaving the profession. More initiatives need to be implemented to increase retention of the GP workforce, Ms Butler said.
She added: “These potential closures of GP practices in Brent would be a huge blow to my constituents and must be prevented.
“These services are heavily relied on by so many people and with the number of GPs across the country having fallen by 900 we cannot afford to lose more.
“The government has failed to address the problems leading to GPs leaving the profession.”
GP closures were discussed at a meeting at the Learie Constantine Centre on November 15 organised by Brent Patient Voice (BPV).
Dr Pauline Foreman, medical director at the RCGP, told the meeting: “Any closure of a practice is a failure, both for patients and the NHS. It costs a great deal and is very upsetting.”
The meeting heard patients were unhappy at long waiting times for appointments, and that the NHS wants GPs to send fewer people to hospitals.
Dr Foreman said that, despite 90pc of practices being rated good or outstanding. NHS England targets to replace retiring GPs were not being met.
Brent’s CCG, the GP-led group that makes decisions about healthcare funding in the borough, wants to see all local practices collaborating under the umbrella of the new “primary care homes” initiative.
New CCG chair Dr Madhukar Patel told the meeting: “This could involve some patients going to neighbouring practices for long-term care – for example, for diabetes – but they would still have their own GP at their regular practice.”
A spokesperson later added: “We understand that access is often an issue at the GP practice, which is why we have introduced extended GP access appointments in Brent, providing evening and weekend appointments at several locations across the borough.
“If patients are unable to get an appointment with their practice, they can ask for an extended GP access appointment or call 111, who can book them an appointment if required.”