Increasing numbers of GP surgeries are being forced to turn away new patients owing to immense pressures.
BMA GPs committee chair Chaand Nagpaul has commented in response to an investigation by the BBC into the numbers of surgeries across England requesting a freeze on registering new patients.
The investigation, carried out under the Freedom of Information Act, shows that at least 100 surgeries applied to NHS England during 2014/15 for permission to stop accepting new patients.
Dr Nagpaul said that many surgeries were no longer able to cope with a lack of resources and intense demand, and were having to close their practice lists in order to safeguard patient safety.
He said: ‘As this BBC investigation shows, general practice across England is under unprecedented pressure.
‘In this environment, many GPs are buckling under the pressure and stopping or reducing their work owing to stress — a situation which is not only deeply upsetting for the individuals involved, but is further diminishing the capacity of GP services.’
Details from the BBC’s investigation showed that around 56 per cent of the 100 surgeries seeking to suspend patient registration had their requests approved by NHS England.
Just under 300 practices were listed as not accepting patients by the NHS Choices website in November 2015, although the Health and Social Care Information Centre has warned that some of these practices will have resumed accepting patients but not updated their information.
Dr Nagpaul said that urgent action needed to be taken by the Government to address the growing crisis of recruitment and resources in general practice, before the situation deteriorated further.
He said: ‘With more than 600 GP trainee posts left vacant in 2015 and [according to a BMA survey] a third of the existing workforce considering retirement in the next five years, there are signs this crisis is likely to worsen this year.
‘We need the Government to take urgent action to provide GP practices with the resources and support to enable them to treat more patients in a safe and effective way.’
A recent survey by the GPC highlighted the pressures facing general practice in which more than nine in 10 GPs reported their workload to be unmanageable.
Read the BMA survey
Read the BBC investigation
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