Responding to today's Pulse investigation into the closure of GP surgeries in the UK, Dr David Wrigley, BMA England GP committee deputy chair, said:
"People having access to their local practice is essential to ensure their health needs are met, and it is deeply concerning so many are seeing their practice close. Losing your GP practice and having to move to another means losing the vital continuity of care that keeps people well, improves health outcomes and which makes general practice the bedrock of the NHS in the UK.
"For smaller practices, already on the sharp end of the workforce crisis in general practice, the loss of just a single GP has the potential to be catastrophic for a community.
"That these closures are also happening in the most deprived areas of the country is doubly worrying, as we move into a winter that will be defined by a terrifying rise in living costs and in particular sky-high increases in fuel costs which will impact the most vulnerable in our society. Increased social deprivation will only exacerbate existing health problems, leading to further pressures on the remaining practices. People struggling the most financially may not be able to afford to travel the extra distance to their nearest practice – meaning they may avoid seeking help all together.
"Therefore, failure from Government to meaningfully support general practice, retain staff and keep surgeries open, means the vast health inequalities we are seeing in this country will only deepen further.
"Ultimately, we need a radical new deal for general practice and see the total number of GPs to be increasing - yet we lost the equivalent of more than 250 full-time, fully-qualified GPs in England alone last year, even as demand increases.
"The Government needs to see the workforce crisis in general practice as part of the wider social picture, and its long-awaited and urgently-needed NHS workforce strategy must include a credible plan to reverse the long-term decline in GP numbers and prevent more practices closing and people’s health suffering as a result."
Notes to editors
The BMA is a professional association and trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.