Almost two million patients have been affected by a huge rise in the number of GP surgeries closing down.
According to an investigation by the medical website Pulse, the shutting down of surgeries has risen almost eight-fold in the past six years, with 138 having disappeared in 2018 alone.
That compares to 2013 – when just 18 practices closed.
The dramatic rise in closures includes entire practices, branches and surgeries that disappeared due to a merger, with dozens more set to follow throughout the rest of 2019.
Provisional data seen by Pulse following Freedom of Information (FOI) requests revealed that 12 GP surgeries closed in January alone, compared with eight during the same period last year.
Dr Jackie Applebee, a GP who chairs the local medical committee in Tower Hamlets in London, said: "The system is creaking. The smaller practices – which patients prefer and which have good outcomes – are being lost because of the under-resourcing."
Pulse has warned that the total number of closures since 2013 could be even higher than the 583 it has recorded, as some health bodies failed to respond to its FOI request.
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An ongoing recruitment crisis has been blamed for the closures, with analysis by health think tanks earlier this year having suggested that the NHS could be short of 7,000 GPs within five years unless the budget for the training and development of staff rises by at least £900m.
Figures released by NHS Digital earlier this week showed that the number of full-time GPs fell by 441 in the 12 months up to March 2019.
Responding to the Pulse research, an NHS England spokesman said: "We continue to Read More – Source