Crisis as SEVEN GP surgeries shutting a month

SEVEN GP surgeries are closing every month, piling even more pressure on overstretched A&E departments.

Labour found that from 2009 to last month, 484 closed in England.

And GP numbers rose by just 209 over four years to just 36,294, said the Health and Social Care Information Centre. Royal College of GPs chief Dr Maureen Baker said: “Across the country we’ve a severe shortage.”

Doctors SurgeryLabour also found 71 trusts, 76% of those in England, had 1,175 days of “operational problems” including cancelled ops last winter – almost double 2009/10’s figure.

And Pulse, the doctors’ magazine,  has warned  hundreds of thousands of patients could be left without a GP within six months as overworked family doctors consider shutting almost 500 surgeries.

Pulse editor Nigel Praities said: “These figures are shocking, and show that we are on the precipice of widespread GP practice closures unless ministers intervene.

Their poll found one in 20 GPs is thinking about shutting their practice completely within the next six months because they are overstretched and suffering from a recruitment crisis and a lack of funding.

Richard Vautrey from the British Medical Association, which represents 150,000 doctors, said the figures showed a reality that was “all too common now”. He said: “They reflect the growing workload pressures and real stresses that GPs are under. And it’s not a surprise that many GPs have reached the end of their tether.”

Pulse editor Nigel Praities said: “These figures are shocking, and show that we are on the precipice of widespread GP practice closures unless ministers intervene.

“GPs need an emergency package of support to help them restructure and protect their patients.”

Labour have vowed to recruit 8,000 extra GPs if elected and the Tories have pledged to recruit another 5,000.

“It doesn’t get any better – does it?”

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Dodgy Doctors – ‘Clampdown’

Patients are to be given unprecedented powers to lodge complaints against dodgy doctors and NHS chiefs.

Sources say top Tories plan to launch a people’s ombudsman after a spate of health scandals. It comes days after a report into the deaths of 11 babies and a mum at Furness hospital, Cumbria, uncovered a ‘lethal mix’ of failings at almost every level. The shake-up is the brainchild of Tory policy chief Oliver Letwin and consumer watchdog Which? and could be announced this coming Monday.

Naughty ManIt would see two existing but barely known health and local government panels replaced by a Public Services Ombudsman. The new body will field complaints about every aspect of the health service down  to social care and care homes at local authority level.

A Which? study this week found 49 per cent of people who had a problem with a public service body – did not make an official complaint.

A report by MPs last year called for changes – saying it would  “rectify shortcomings in NHS attitudes and behaviour” in handling complaints.

Richard Lloyd from Which? said: “We want the next Government to commit to reforming the complaints system across all public services so that people feel confident it is worth complaining”.

Hawkes. S  The Sun. Saturday Mar 14    P. 4

“Officialdom and ‘closing ranks’ in public services has allowed the general public to be walked on for far to long. Anything to stop people hiding behind this may stop them ‘getting away with murder’, as they say.”