BMA: Most GPs want to close surgery lists to new patients

More than half of GPs want to close their surgery lists to new patients, a survey has found.

A total of 54 per cent of senior family doctors said they would be willing to temporarily suspend registrations.

They claim the drastic measures would enable to focus their attention on providing safe care to those patients already on their list.

Some 1,870 senior or ‘partner’ GPs took part in the survey which was undertaken by the British Medical Association, the doctors’ union.

The BMA will now decide whether to call on all family doctors to temporarily close surgery lists as a show of protest against the Government.

A total of 54 per cent of senior family doctors said they would be willing to temporarily suspend registrations in protest at the strain on the NHS

The union claims ministers have failed to invest enough money in surgeries at a time when demand from patients is increasing, due to the aging population and migration.

GPs are also being expected to carry out more weekend and evening appointments without any extra funding nor staff.

But collectively closing their lists would prove catastrophic for patients and anyone moving home would struggle to register with a nearby surgery

The BMA said the next step would be to speak to the Government and lobby for more funding and renewed efforts to recruit GPs.

A spokesman said ‘all options were on the table’ including calling on GPs to close their lists on mass.

Dr Richard Vautrey, chair of the body’s GP committee, said ministers needed ‘to understand that this landmark survey sounds a clear warning signal from GPs that cannot be ignored, and that the workload, recruitment and funding crisis in general practice must be addressed with far more vigour and commitment’.


Government plans to force graduate doctors to work in the NHS for four years after qualifying appear to have been scrapped, it was reported last month..

Practitioners warned the policy, announced last October, may exacerbate the ongoing recruitment crisis within the health service.

The compulsory tie wasn’t mentioned in the Department of Health’s announcement yesterday on the future of medical training.

Instead, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said it would continue to explore ‘how best to achieve a return on taxpayer investment’. Training a doctor currently costs the taxpayer around £230,000.

But officials have denied that the health service is scrapping such plans as they stated claims of such to be ‘inaccurate’. 

‘The BMA is now calling on ministers to work with us to urgently to address this growing crisis which is threatening to overwhelm general practice. We cannot allow a situation where patient safety is being compromised by a lack of political action,’

Before GPs can close their surgery lists they must first apply to NHS England, stating their reasons.

If they can show their lists are already very long, and safety would be threatened by accepting new patients, NHS officials could well approve it.

This could lead to many surgeries across England being closed to new patients. Anyone moving home might have to travel a long distance to find a GP still accepting registrations.

Rachel Power, Chief Executive of the Patients Association, said: ‘This survey illustrates powerfully how it is patients who are at risk from the mounting pressures on the NHS. If GPs start to suspend patient registration on anything like the scale suggested here, many patients will be excluded from receiving essential care.

‘The causes are no mystery – the NHS lacks both the workforce and the financial resources it needs to meet rising demand. The Government must face up to this challenge, be frank with the public about what needs to be done, and resource the NHS properly.’

Surgeries across England are overwhelmed and struggling to provide appointments for the rising and ageing population.

In April last year, NHS bosses promised to alleviate the pressures by promising more money, proposals to help ease the workload and an extra 5,000 GPs.

But recent figures show the number of GPs is falling – not rising – with many retiring early or moving abroad.