16 March

20% of practices in Plymouth have either closed or handed back their contract in the past three years, leaving 34,000 patients without a fixed GP.

The city faces a ‘black hole’ with surrounding practices ‘getting sucked in’ with 10 out of 52 practices having ‘closed or handed back their contract’ in the past three years.

We’ve become just another practice closure statistic

Dr Matt Best, vice-chair of the western sub-committee of Devon LMC, told GPs that the contract-handbacks and closures in Plymouth mean 15% of patients ‘don’t have a fixed GP’.

However, NHS England have said that ‘only three small practices have closed since 2015’ with a total patient list size of 6,650.

But Dr Best said surrounding practices ‘are struggling to help look after those extra patients and typically the patients that are the well patients don’t end up reregistering’.

He said: ‘It’s the complex difficult patients that re-register and add on to the lists of neighbouring practices and make it so difficult.’

Dr Best was speaking in favour of a motion at the LMCs Conference expressing concern ‘about the number of recent practice closures’.

Dr Best added that the closures are ‘appalling and horrifying for the patients’, with Dr Best adding that the surplus patients without an appointment are adding to local A&E pressures ‘because patients are unable to see a GP’.

Pulse has previously reported that the 22,000-patient Ocean Health partnership in Plymouth was forced to close its patient list, after its partners handed back their contract because of rising patient demand and a shortage of GPs.

The motion proposed at the LMCs Conference was passed unanimously.

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