The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has called on the Government to follow through on promises outlined in its NHS long-term plan following some worrying forecasts regarding the potential future of general practice.
In recent days, the RCGP has warned that the ongoing issue of GP shortages will reach a peak within the next five years if no action is taken to deliver 5,000 extra GPs to the profession, as has previously been promised.
It has estimated that as many as 750 GP practices could close in the coming years if the Government does not fulfil its promises, as too many practices are relying on ageing GPs who are approaching retirement.
The organisation has also said that there is an urgent need for an additional £2.5 billion a year to be pumped into GP practices in an effort to help maintain patient safety – particularly as the retiree issue is likely to impact some 2.5 million patients all across the country.
625 of the practices that the RCGP estimates could be at risk of closure are in England, while 71 are in Scotland, 37 in Wales and 29 in Northern Ireland.
Commenting, RCGP Chair, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, said: “Many GPs are bringing forward their retirement plans because the pressures they are working under are untenable.
“It is a massive loss to the profession – and patients – to lose our most experienced doctors prematurely when they have huge amounts of knowledge and skill.”
She added that GPs “urgently need to see existing promises of investment for general practice, 5,000 more GPs, and 5,000 more members of the wider practice team delivered,” as well as the promised funding.
The comments come at a time when the British Medical Association is warning that general practice across the UK is in a “critical condition.”