World at One interview
Feature on “World at One” Programme BBC Radio 4 - 13th May 2016
The GP crisis in Leicester- I was interviewed by Jon Manel as part of a story about the state of emergency in Leicester, on the BBC's World at One programme. Jon took a four-minute drive around the city and drove past three surgeries which have closed recently (The Maples Surgery in Evington, a branch surgery at Springfield Road Health Centre, and Queens Road Medical Centre). He interviewed a number of affected patients, who spoke passionately about the high quality service and excellent continuity of care they enjoyed at a smaller practice, and of their struggles to find a new practice.
He then spoke to me. I said:
“In the last three years I can recall 8 practice closures. There are many more who are down to last man standing.
“There’s a certain point at which they will struggle if they get allocated four or five hundred patients, and they are a small practice it could be the thing that tips them over the edge. And then it feels like dominoes starting to fall over. They will reach a point where they are beyond the size they are designed for and if they can’t attract doctors and nurses and staff to cope with the increases to their list, then it might start to be the final straw for some of the practices that are just clinging on.”
Jon Manel asked me if we were to sit down in 12 months’ time, would we be talking about more closures?
I replied, “That’s my fear- I do think we are in a state of emergency in Leicester. I wouldn’t be astonished if another 5 or 6 practices had closed or gone under by this time next year.”
Jon Manel then spoke to Professor Azar Farooqi at East Leicester Medical Practice, who is also the Chairman of Leicester City Clinical Commissioning Group. Prof Farooqi acknowledged the seriousness of the situation and suggested one solution practice may have to consider is becoming part of a larger organization. He spoke of the challenges his practice had experienced with partners leaving the practice and difficulties in recruiting new staff.
The General Practice Forward View, published in April, talks about Building General Practice Resilience - £40 million to help struggling practices, £16 million of which is being released in this financial year 2016/17. I am making sure my team are closely involved in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.