Many GPs 'Refusing' To Take New Patients

An Increasing Number Of GPs Are Applying For Temporary List Closures

11.09.2014

GP practices in the UK are increasingly refusing to add new patients to their books, leading to concerns relating to the safety of the public.

Pulse magazine reports that NHS England has told the publication more and more surgeries are reaching full capacity and are becoming unable to cope with additional patients, as requests to be added to lists have increased by a huge 160 per cent over the past three years.

In light of this, temporary list freezes have been introduced in what GPs have called a bid to protect patient safety, but this leads to questions regarding the lack of care provided to those who are struggling to get on doctors' books in the first place.

During the last 12 months, 104 practices in England have approached their local area team to ask for permission to close their lists on a temporary basis, showing a significant increase over the past few years, from the 78 recorded in 2012 and just 40 in 2011.

NHS England added that 45 GP surgeries have requested to reduce the catchment boundaries for their practice in an attempt to reduce the number of new patients wanting to sign up for care with them.

One surgery in need of a temporary list closure is the Milton Keynes Village Practice, which has just six doctors, but around 14,000 patients attached to it. Practice manager Kim Foy-Oluwo told Pulse magazine the surgery has recently applied for its fifth temporary list closure to protect both staff and patients.

Chief executive of Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Local Medical Communities Dr Peter Graves added: "There are real concerns about workload, recruitment problems and premises. We are certainly getting more requests for advice from practices on how to go about closing lists and indeed I am getting calls from practices straining with capacity problems and problems with their premises."

He added that one of his suggestions for resolving these issues would be to temporarily close lists and to just concentrate on current patients for the time being.

Expert Opinion
It is very concerning to hear that a number of GP surgeries are reaching full patient capacity, resulting in potential new patients being turned away. Patent care should always be the top priority for GPs and the national health service as a whole, which means providing care for those who need it.

“These reports suggest that GPs are no longer able to accept new patients and as a result people may be left without access to a local doctor. This can have a significant knock-on effect, increasing pressure on already overstretched A&E departments, which creates conditions where mistakes are made and patients are put at further risk.

“Hopefully action can be taken to increase the number of GPs working in overstretched surgeries to ensure new patients can be registered and access the treatment they require, when they need it.”
Julianne Moore, Partner