A dozen GPs in west London have either closed or merged between July 2016 and December 2017, according to NHS Digital figures. Royal College GPs have warned that this comes as demand on health services are increasing. This fall in surgeries puts more stress on GPs with data showing that the number of patients registered with a GP in west London grew by over 72,000, to a total of 301,806. This has brought the average number of patients per surgery up to 6,499, compared to 6,181 in January 2017.
The Kensington and Chelsea, Queens Park, and Paddington NHS areas saw six practices closed. This means that there are 5,652 patients per surgery, up from 5,388 in January 2017. The Brent NHS area saw two GP practices close or merge, bringing the area to an average of 5,917 patients per surgery, up from 5,660 in January last year. And in the Ealing, Harrow, Hillingdon, and Hounslow NHS areas saw four in total closing.
“Unfortunately, these situations are often the by-product of the overall state of general practice and the pressures currently facing our profession,” Chair of the Royal College of GPs Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said. “In a snapshot, chronic underfunding, a depleted workforce and severe lack of resources. GP surgeries are at the heart of any community so the decision to completely close a practice will only be made as a last resort and once all other avenues to find a solution have been explored.”