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600 GP practices at risk of closure, says RCGP

The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has claimed that around 600 GP practices are at risk of closure by 2020 due to problems recruiting GPs in the UK.

According to the RCGP, if nothing is done to solve the present shortage of GPs then patient safety across the UK could be ‘at risk’. It has identified up to 600 practices (including 543 in England) where more than 75% GPs are aged 55 and over, who will retire over the next 12 months. On average, family doctors retire at the age of 59. The college has predicted shortage of almost 10000 GPs across the UK by 2020.

The RCGP has launched a new video and guide campaign, both called as ‘think GP’. It is designed to encourage medical students, foundation doctors and sixth form students into a career in general practice. The video and guide show general practice as an ‘exciting and challenging’ and try to address the misconception that the job of a GP is somehow run-of-the-mill, with family doctors simply treating coughs and colds.

The college believes that by 2020 each nation of the UK will have a shortfall in the number of its full time equivalent GPs. It predicts shortfall of:

  • 8,371 GPs in England
  • 830 in Scotland
  • 424 in Wales
  • 316 in Northern Ireland

Dr Maureen Baker, Chair of the RCGP said that in order to keep the NHS on its feet, it is imperative to recruit huge numbers of foundation doctors and medical students into general practice. If the college fail to recruit GP then there will be too few GPs and patient safety in general practice will obviously be at risk.

He further added that ‘Think GP’ video and guide will help to explode dangerous myth about the general practice. It shows family doctors are skilled medical generalists who have to understand and manage chronic long-term condition and provide the continuing care to patients.

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