CEO and Founder of Now Healthcare Group, Lee Dentith, looks at the weekend’s worrying GP surgery news, with one in five practices in London expected to close down within the next three years.
Rising demand for appointments, doctor shortages and unmanageable workloads will play havoc with primary healthcare in the capital in the coming months. New research among 644 surgeries has confirmed the worst for London practices, with one in five facing the prospect of closure within three years.
This survey reflects the worrying state of approximately half of the capital’s surgeries. As a result of this relentless pressure and strain, it was found that an eighth of London practices are considering scaling back the services they offer. With onsite primary healthcare already inaccessible for thousands of London-based patients, many will be unsure of where to turn with fewer services available and no local clinic to rely on.
19 surgeries have already announced that they will definitely be closing by 2019, with a further 17% of all London practices not ruling out doing the same. Research points to a shortage of family doctors and an increasingly difficult and unmanageable workload as two of several reasons for the potential closures.
As London’s population continues to accelerate – there’s now 8.6 million living in the capital – the accessibility of reliable primary care at the same time diminishes. We’re edging dangerously close to the system as we know it reaching breaking point, and it’s time to have a serious look at alternatives.
Jeremy Hunt has recently finalised a package of emergency measures to relieve strain on GP services – but will it be enough? I found this quote from Dr Naureen Bhatti, in an interview with The Guardian, particularly powerful:
“We’ve had very few applicants [for our GP job vacancies]. We were surprised because we’ve never had trouble filling our jobs before. But it’s become very difficult in the last six to nine months…The vacancies mean that our workload, which is already heavy and rising, has become enormous. I’m absolutely exhausted. I worked from 8am to 9pm or 10pm every day this week and now I often see patients on what are supposed to my administration days because so many people want an appointment.”
It’s staggering to me how we can let our health service reach this kind of drastic state without taking action earlier. The potential of mobile health services has been known by those in the industry for a long time, and it’s so evident that it’s needed now more than ever.
We want to work with the health service to assist them in a much-needed transition to a more tech-minded approach to healthcare. At times like these the industry needs to come together and work differently – we need to use mHealth to be smarter about how we provide the nation with the care it deserves and so badly needs. Through our service we are able to provide patients with appointments from the comfort of their own home – waiting times, appointment demand and poor access to a GP can all be solved through integration with our innovative app.
You can read more of my thoughts on LinkedIn or follow me on Twitter.