A new poll has revealed that GP practices are continuing to take on new patients despite lacking the capacity to do so.
According to the survey by GPonline, more than 90% of GPs and practice managers who responded said their practice was continuing to take on new patients – despite 43% reporting they lacked the workforce or premises to accommodate them.
Of those taking on new patients, 43% said they didn’t have adequate capacity in terms of workforce and premises.
Some Senior GPs said they had been refused permission to close lists because neighbouring practices would be unable to absorb the increased demand.
Just 3% of the 526 GPs and practice managers who responded said their practice had stopped taking on new patients, although 6% said they had been forced to turn away patients who wished to register in the past year.
Practices not accepting new patients cited problems including inability to recruit staff, inadequate premises or being swamped with existing work.
Some GPs said they would close their practice lists if they could.
Enquiries by GPonline to area teams reveal how few practices have closed lists. Of 15 area teams that responded, the average number of practices with closed lists was just 1.2. The highest number of closed lists reported by an area team was five in South Midlands and Hertfordshire, while three area teams had none at all.
Speaking to GPonline, GPC member and Wessex LMCs chief executive Dr Nigel Watson said it was quite common for practices to be refused permission to close their lists. ‘In our area, very few practices have been able to close their lists, but many have asked and been told no, you can’t.’